by Pierre Le Roux
Nelson Mandela is without a doubt the face and soul of South Africa. This great icon of peace and liberation will be celebrating his birthday on 18 July and he will be turning 94. Therefore, a great tribute to this legend of Africa is the annual celebration of Mandela Day (make an imprint a 46664 celebration) which was established in June of 2008. Mandela Day is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them; individuals are required to spend 67 minutes on this day devoted to the charity of their choice in celebration of Mandela’s 67 years of making a difference.
I am one of the lucky South Africans that had the honour of meeting this legend a couple of years ago. Madiba made a visit to the university I was attending. When he entered the room I could feel I was in the presence of greatness. I was overwhelmed by his energy and enigmatic poise. Shaking the hand of this unassuming and soft spoken man I looked into his eyes and could not help but wonder how this person that spend 27 years in prison could emerge without any bitterness or hatred. On 11 February 1990 his freedom was secured and his dynamic purpose and instrumental role in forever changing a country, I suppose, provided him with a higher objective that could not afford him the luxury of ill feelings of the past but instead focused him on his destiny. After changing a nation and an exemplary life Madiba stood in front me and I realized I was touching a legend and a part of living history. The few minutes of interaction I had with him will remain vivid in my memory and his genuine interest and ability to make each person he relates with feel important and respected will remain an example to me of how human beings should treat each other.
Being too young to actually remember Apartheid and the evils it perpetrated I recently visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Our sordid history is on display in this multi-million establishment that serves as a reminder for us not to repeat the past. Atrocities committed on both sides of the battle are on display in this museum. After drinking up all this history I left the museum feeling perturbed at how a society could be mislead to believe that discrimination and hate could serve any higher purpose. I also left with a sense of hope as we as a nation were victorious in this struggle and are well on our way to navigate successfully an enlightened future. The story of Apartheid is a painful one for many people – black and white alike! Many innocent people suffered, died and many lives were forever changed with both physical and emotional scars that individuals will take with them to their final resting place. All this sacrifice so that we (the next generation) will have freedom and a better future, a sacrifice I believe not many South African’s fully appreciate.
Having been to Robin Island on a few occasions it’s hard to believe that Nelson Mandela spend the better part of his live there. Having been inside his prison cell I came to realize how resilient a person’s mind must be to stay strong, focused and optimistic as the claustrophobia could easily persuade your soul to lose hope and your mind to forfeit progress. While on the island I also had the opportunity to see the man made cave that the political prisoners dug; the cave that is fondly referred to as our first democratic parliament and many of our current political leaders received their political education there. If anything the visionaries of that era were creative, innovative and motivated – qualities we hope they will soon reintroduce into our current political landscape.
Nelson Mandela truly is an extraordinary human being and will be celebrated across the world on the 18th of July for many years to come. His life is an example of sacrifice, hope, change, resilience and peace. It’s my wish that with Mandela Day people from across the globe will engage in the values of compassion, respect, charity, peace, forgiveness and goodwill and make a positive imprint on their community propagating the legacy of Madiba and embracing Madiba Magic in their lives and generously share it with others.
(For information on how you can participate in Mandela Day please visit the official website http://www.mandeladay.com/)
Till next time.