As we celebrate one hundred years of Nelson Mandela’s life, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on the legacy of this great man.
As we observe the state of the world today, in particular the rise in nationalism, racism and discrimination, I often wonder what Nelson Mandela would have made of it all. In many parts of the world there is still a long way from attaining the freedoms that Nelson Mandela stood for.
Even sadder still is the fact that as we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s life, freedom and democracy in some parts of the world appear to have suffered a one hundred year set-back. In thinking of Nelson Mandela’s biography, it would seem like we still have a ‘long walk to freedom’.
We have a long way to go in order to achieve equality between men and women, between developed and so-called developing countries. We still have a long way to go in order to make sure that every single child has a quality education.
So, as we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s life, its appropriate for us to reflect on his life and values he stood for. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela had a vision of equality, justice, freedom and a non-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal. I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation and pursuit of a common good.
Nelson Mandela challenged and spoke out against injustices – he was a symbol of the struggle for justice, equality and dignity in South Africa and around the world. Nelson Mandela never remained silent. Every day, all around us, we see the consequences of remaining silent manifest itself in the form of discrimination, violence, genocide and war.
Silence is the residue of fear. Silence is the genocide of six million Jewish people during the Holocaust, Silence is Apartheid, Silence is the Rwandan genocide. Silence is the genocide of the Rayinga in Myanmar. Silence is what we hear when there aren’t enough body bags left. Silence is charring, Silence is pain.
Nelson Mandela’s life should inspire us to take action to tackle inequality, improve education and become part of a ‘tapestry of good against evil’. On Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads. A moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world. Two different stories, two different narratives about who we are and who we should be.
Lets choose Nelson Mandela’s legacy of hope by reaching out to each other and working together to make the world a better place.
Nelson Mandela said, “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. 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. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
Have a Great Mandela Day!