Happy birthday, Madiba. He would have been 100 on July 18th, 2018.
Mandela was the greatest man of our time. Courageous, unrelenting, humble, forgiving.
I cannot state how much his example has meant to me and countless others. His story is well-known: his fight for racial justice, the Rivonia trial, his lost years (27 of them) in prison, during which he was prevented from attending the funerals of his mother and son. His emergence into the light, his presidency, and the extraordinary decision to forgive the architects and executors of apartheid in order to heal South Africa. He is a hero for all times and places.
Madiba was a soaring orator, both as a young lawyer/activist in the heat of the struggle and later as President of South Africa and the world’s great statesman. Here are some of his words:
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
“No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
“I never lose. I either win or learn.”
“The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture.”
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you have altered.”
“There is no easy walk to freedom.”