Nelson Mandela Freedom Fighter and Revolutionary
Nelson Mandela was born into a world torn apart by war. Revolution was everywhere. The Soviet Union was born just a year earlier, and all of Europe lay on the brink. He grew up in one of the most unjust and oppressive regimes on the planet. A country were racism and segregation were enshrined as a way of life by the ruling elite, aided and abetted by their apologists in the west. Perhaps one of the greatest of these was Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but that’s another story.
Mandela fought for liberty and justice his whole life. He paid a terrible price for this, being imprisoned for 27 years, but nothing dulled the fire that burned inside him. I remember the day he was freed in 1990. I watched him walk from his jail on the evening news in my parents home. I marvelled at his strength. So many of us give up, when faced with far smaller obstacles in life than the ones he suffered.
However, Mandela went on to lead his country as president. Others may have sought to disappear into obscurity, perhaps publish a book or two. After such a soul sapping period of captivity, who could have blamed him if he had. That he didn’t take that route is surely an inspiration to everyone, whether they face life’s greatest struggles, or those of the more mundane variety. Never give in when you have right on your side. Mandela’s legacy.
Perhaps most astonishing of all, is his response to those who oppressed him. When many in South Africa or beyond were understandably (and perhaps justifiably) baying for retribution, Mandela’s African National Congress gave us “Truth and Reconciliation”. Where else in history have we seen such remarkable compassion, and dignity in the face of what amounted to crimes against humanity? South Africa became a model for any country emerging from revolution.
Today South Africa is still some way from being the country Mandela fought for, but he has left it in a far better state than he found it. The world lost a great revolutionary today, but he will have inspired generations ready to pick up the torch of freedom.
Rest In Peace