Thursday, February 11, 2016

Recent Past Remembered

"This is the island, this is where you will die," they were told as they arrived at the Robben Island prison.  
   It was 1962, South Africa during Apartheid.

Mr. Mandela, now 71, is freed without conditions, ending 27 and a half years of imprisonment.
February 11, 1990 -- Nelson Mandela released.   
In his imprisonment, Nelson Mandela was told, "This is your ending. No one will hear you. No one will care. No one will remember your name," or words to that effect.  No one remembers the fellow who said that, of course, and no one cares to.

Of Nelson Mandela, however ...

"President Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as someone who gave up so much of his life in the struggle for freedom, so that millions could have a brighter future."
UN Security Council

"He was a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity, a great human being, someone of whom we can truly say, 'He lived a meaningful life.' I pray for him and offer my heartfelt condolences to you, the members of your family and the entire people of South Africa." Dali Lama

"Nelson Mandela is physically separated from us, but his soul and spirit will never die. He belongs to the whole world because he is an icon of equality, freedom and love, the values we need all the time everywhere. His long, long struggle is a great demonstration of humanity. I have learned so much from Nelson Mandela, and he has been my leader. He is a perpetual inspiration for me and millions of others around the world."  
Malala Yousafzai

"Nelson Mandela demonstrated that leadership is not about power, but on the contrary, about honor. That is what we learned from Nelson Mandela during the dark days with him on Robben Island. Today he is seen as an icon in the world, whose teachings, principles and values need to be embraced by all. He was embraced even by even white wardens, his own jailers, because he demonstrated that through the power of dialogue ... people on different sides, former enemies, can come together. That's how we in South Africa were able to resolve our intractable problems created by the racist system of apartheid.  ...  My cell was only about 2-3 meters away from his cell. His cell was small, but it contained a very formidable and larger-than-life figure." Tokyo Sexwale, who was imprisoned with Mandela on Robben Island

From his autobiography which he wrote in prison, "No one is born hating another person because of the colour 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."

It has been 26 years since his release in 1990.  That was a long time ago.  He was in prison longer.

For us all, Nelson Mandela is a world changer.  We'll remember him and tell stories about him and include him in our history books alongside those most extraordinary people who gave of themselves for the sake of others.  And we're inspired to serve as well.  

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