The world, no matter how pessimistically we would prefer to believe otherwise, is full of good men. Men who are willing to love, to help, to join hands for greater good. Surrounded by imminent threats of war, disease, desolation and starvation, there is hope for survival with dignity. I have always believed that to accomplish true immortality, one has to live beyond himself. One has to partake in the progression of human kind, the kind of which is only achieved by offering the self in service of society, in being there for the needy, in standing up against injustice.
Nelson Mandela (whom I'll lovingly refer to as 'Madiba', exactly how he is fondly referred to by his clan fellows) did exactly the same. Madiba stood up against injustice. He ensured, at the cost of his cherished liberty, that the basic and inherent entitlements of his fellow men and women were available to them. And for that he was accused of sedition and other grave charges, tried and convicted. The Rivolia trial ended with his incarceration for life. Mandela served a long 27 years in prison. But in that confinement Madiba found his emancipation. In that suppression he discovered liberty, not only of his mind but for thousands of his fellow men and women, fighting for whom had him landed in jail. His was the perfect example of how man made institutions and norms, howsoever oppressive, cannot really chain a champion of freedom. Laws howsoever barbaric, will always fall in the end, vanquished at the hands of those who surrendered their everything in the fight against unfairness. There's a divinity involved in the cause and that divinity guides that fighter, that champion, in his stand against tyranny.
Madiba's release was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. He published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa's first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rightsabuses. Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.
Having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation".
Madiba died yesterday (5.12.2013). Men come and go. Only a few go leaving behind endless inspiration for the new order. I am tremendously inspired by his life and works. Without even the slightest exaggeration of the truth, Madiba was a man, the likes of whom only come once in forever. May his soul find everlasting peace.