On Thursday, December 5th, the world lost a great man. Former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away, leaving a legacy of courage and strength. Fighting against and dismantling the South African system of apartheid, Mandela led a nation, impacted the world, and provided inspiration for many along the way. This Nobel Peace Prize laureate preached peace and reconciliation in spite of having been imprisoned for 27 years for fighting for what he believed in.
I was a freshman in college when Mandela was released from prison. I can remember how the student body cheered when it was announced that he had finally been released from prison. It was such an awesome experience, being able to witness this. I was young and could only hope to have a fraction of his courage and strength – still do. We need more men like him today. With his health recently failing, we knew this day would come; however, nothing can take away the great sense of loss.
As the world reflects on the life of this great man, I would like to reflect on the following quotes from Nelson Mandela:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
1918 – 2013
Rest in Peace