Compassion and Forgiveness After a Life of Oppression, Struggle and Profound Sacrifice Made Nelson Mandela a Great Human Being

“HE IS NOW AT PEACE”

A ZAR 5 coin, manufactured in South Africa on Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.  Photo: Istockphoto.com

A ZAR 5 coin, manufactured in South Africa on Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, resting on the South African flag. Photo: Istockphoto.com

In announcing the passing away of Nelson Mandela, the South African President Jacob Zuma said:

“Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

With tributes pouring in from around the world, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada issued the following statement:

“With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen. Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the former Government of South Africa, for his part in the struggle that would ultimately end the system of apartheid.

“Despite his long years of captivity, Mr. Mandela left prison with a heart closed to calls for a settling of scores. Instead, he was filled by a longing for truth and reconciliation, and for an understanding between all peoples.

“He demonstrated that the only path forward for the nation was to reject the appeal of bitterness. His forbearance was legendary: his magnanimity spared all South Africans incalculable suffering.

“Nelson Mandela’s enduring legacy for his country, and the world, is the example he set through his own ‘long walk to freedom.’ With grace and humility, he modelled how peoples can transform their own times and in doing so, their own lives.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, Laureen and I extend our condolences to Mr. Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, his entire family and all citizens of South Africa. Canada, a nation that granted Mr. Mandela honorary citizenship in 2001, mourns with you and the entire world today.”

 F.W. de Klerk, left, the last president of apartheid-era South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, his successor, wait to speak in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, IN 1993. Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

F.W. de Klerk, left, the last president of apartheid-era South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, his successor, wait to speak in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, IN 1993. Photo credit: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

US President Barack Obama in a statement issued from the White House said that he was among the countless of individuals who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life.  The first thing that he ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. He mentioned that the day Mandela was released from prison gave him a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. President Obama concluded  his tribute with the following words.

“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.

“For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.”

BRIAN MULRONEY’S FIRST PHONE CALL WITH NELSON MANDELA

Former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, in his memoirs, recalled the first phone call he had with Nelson Mandela, on February 12, 1990, the day after his release from prison. Mandela told him:

“I am honoured by your call, as the attitude of Canada is well-known. We regard you as one of our great friends because of the solid support we have received from you and Canada over the years. When I was in jail, having friends like you in Canada gave me more joy and support than I can say. There could have been no greater tangible evidence of friendship than your concern for me and my family and the strong action you and the Government of Canada took while I was in jail to help us defend the interests of the new South Africa we want to build.”

On November 17, 2001 Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel began a three-day visit to Canada by attending a ceremony to rename a Toronto public school after him. He and his wife Graça Machel later receive honorary degrees from Toronto’s Ryerson University. On November 19, 2001 Canada made Nelson Mandela an honorary citizen. In the following years he was joined as Canada’s Honorary citizen by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, and His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

Earlier this year, Simerg was granted the privilege of publishing excerpts from Nelson Mandela’s speech that he delivered at Oxford University’s Centre for Islamic Studies. We invite our readers to reflect on the life of a great statesman and to read the speech excerpts by clicking on Renewal and Renaissance – Towards a New World Order by Nelson Mandela.

You may submit a tribute or a message of condolence for Nelson Mandela below or by visiting his foundation website, www.nelsonmandela.org.

5 thoughts on “Compassion and Forgiveness After a Life of Oppression, Struggle and Profound Sacrifice Made Nelson Mandela a Great Human Being

  1. Thank you Simerg. Nelson Mandela hasn’t left this physical world but has become immortal, this great world hero of our century, once regarded as a ‘terrorist’, made a unique impact on the globe, on humanity. I have been aware of him since my school, college, university days and even for decades, as a peace activist, for justice etc all in my Linked-In and elsewhere, as you know me well. Look at the way since his passing away of free South African people black, white all expressing by dancing, reflecting, praying.

  2. I stayed the afternoon from work when he was released from prison. What a sight as he came walking down that lane and thrust out his fist. In 2004 I had the opportunity to visit Robben Island. We stepped ino his cell and gazed at Cape Town far away. The other thing I remember about him are the rock concerts where they called out Free Nelson Mandela.

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