Today, the global community mourned the death of the man who led an unyielding struggle to end the system of apartheid in South Africa and provided hope to the dispossessed around the world. Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as ‘Madiba’, died Thursday aged 95, was a unifying force for not only black South Africans, but human beings.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son, our people have lost a father,” said South African President Jacob Zuma during a televised address to the nation. “Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.”
Mandela, who spent 27 years imprisoned for his opposition to the apartheid regime, never preached hatred towards his oppressors, refusing to accept their toxic definition of race, defying it with grace, compassion and a fervent belief that justice would always prevail.
“We will always love Madiba for teaching us that it is possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society,” said Zuma early this morning.
Mandela will be buried in a state funeral this Sunday in his ancestral hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province, Zuma said. The day will be a “national day of prayer and reflection” to remember the life and struggle of the African National Congress leader who led the country from 1994 to 1999.
While tributes pour in from leaders and celebrities around the world, here is ‘Madiba’ in his own, inspiring words:
“It always seems impossible until its done.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
“I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.”
“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”
“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”
“It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”
“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”
“We are fighting for a society where people will cease thinking in terms of color.”
“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.”
“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.