How can we ever describe the loss of Nelson Mandela to this world?

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Remembering Nelson Mandela:

How can we ever describe the loss of Nelson Mandela to this world?

 It is not easy.

Alagi Yorro Jallow

I can think of no other person born in our lifetime whose living – whose sacrifice, whose values and beliefs – has touched more people across the globe than Madiba.

I saw firsthand as a student how his prolonged and unjust imprisonment moved hundreds of thousands of us, young people primarily, to stand against the forces that dominated and speak truth to power.

The struggle of the South African people led by him awakened in a generation worldwide from the late 1970s to 1990s an abhorrence of injustice and a passion to fight it in all its forms.

Let us understand that these horrors continued decades after the settlement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provided for the equality of treatment for all human beings.

Mandela’s exceptional ability to forgive was matched by his clear understanding that the process of acknowledging wrong is the first step to repairing the damage and injury perpetrated. He recognized that if the people of South Africa were to focus on building a future, they could not live in the past. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the high road taken by a leader – not by virtue of his political office but by dint of his moral courage and his commitment to reflect by his living that which he believed. The grace that he showed in this aspect of his leadership is truly his greatest legacy and one that is unmatched among contemporary leaders.

Apartheid was a scurrilous and hideous crime against humanity. The transition from apartheid to democracy was assisted by so many countless people.

Mandela’s ability to rise above the fray and focus on the future that had to be built for his people based on their right to self-determination on that most powerful of platforms, “One man, one vote”, was remarkable. It was this virtue coupled with his humility that has caused me to be constantly inspired by his living at a very personal level. Ironically, I started to re-read his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” a week ago. I am as moved now as I was when I read it almost twenty years ago.

Nelson Mandela understood the redemptive power of love over hate and the wondrous virtue of liberating both then oppressed and the oppressor.

He is my hero. South Africa and indeed to all people across the world who remain inspired by the life and example of this most dignified and humble of men who rose to become the first black President of South Africa and the most iconic of modern leaders.

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