Nelson Mandela was laid to rest today in Qunu, the village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province where he was born 95 years ago.
Even though he’d been ailing for several months and we knew it was a matter of time, the news of his death knocked me back unexpectedly.
I thought I was ready when I wrote earlier that it was time to let him go but I feel his loss as acutely as if he were a family member, which, in the grand scheme of things, he was.
Nelson Mandela was a towering figure, a fearless advocate for his people and, by extension, the international black community. He was our hero, too.
My tears flowed silently and freely, leaving streaks in my makeup, but I didn’t care. I was sad, sad and felt forlorn. I had never met Nelson Mandela or Madiba as he was called or been part of the crowds that heard to him speak. I had ‘walked’ in his footsteps at Robben Island Maximum Security Prison and Victor Vertser Prison, from which he resumed his life as a free man, but I wished now that I had a glimpse of him. And as I reflect on Madiba’s life, his struggles and sacrifices, I take comfort in his words.
5 Inspiring Quotes from Nelson Mandela
As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
No one is born hating another person because of the color 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.
Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.
Our human compassion binds us to one another – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
Farewell, Mr. Mandela.