Like so many others around the world, I have been thinking about the legacy of Nelson Mandela in the days following his death. He is arguably one of, if not the greatest statesmen I will ever live to see. I never had the opportunity to shake hands with the legendary man – I only had the privilege of being in the same room as him in the UK a decade ago – but I didn’t have to be near him to feel his presence, power, or influence.
When one saw Mandela, one could see – as so many others have said – his connection to other legendary political figures like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. But, unlike those other great figures, Mandela was a man living in ‘my time’. He was not long gone, relegated to history books, or crackling black and white footage. He was live and in colour and affecting change in real time for people across the generational divide: from my grandparents, to my parents, to my own generation. I was fortunate enough to be born when I was and to witness history being played out before my eyes even when I was too young to completely understand, but aware nonetheless of the significance.
He was as charismatic and caring as he was bold and defiant; he was remarkable, but imperfect, still human and flawed like all of us, but capable, despite the many setbacks, of doing the extraordinary. He lived out and practiced his famous quote: “It always seems impossible until it is done”.
When a man like Mandela passes away you come to realize how rare it is to come across people like him.
Mandela, sadly, is gone. On the day of his public and international memorial the skies opened up. It seems that the heavens were weeping too. When an exceptional person leaves this earth it makes one realize that there are too few who inspire and there is too little in this world that is great.
Goodbye Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela . We will miss you.