Sarah Moglia has a beautiful Skepchick post on Mandela.

I lived in South Africa for half a year while studying at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The program was entirely focused on human rights, and in every single class I took, he was talked about. My South African friends spoke about him with reverence. I mean, his nickname was “Madiba” (father) for a reason. I visited Cape Town for a few days after my exams. I was fortunate enough to visit Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 20 years. When you arrive on the island, the entire field leading up to the first building is covered in yellow flowers. It seems odd that the scene of such terrible atrocities is now covered in such beauty. (The album of photos I took on my trip is viewable here.)

Odd, but fitting.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say he was one of the best people humanity has ever seen. The South African Constitution that was created during his presidency was the first constitution in the world to include sexual orientation under its anti-discrimination policies (it is widely considered one of the most progressive constitutions in the world). I know that Nelson Mandela and my experiences in South Africa have greatly shaped who I am as a person. I can only imagine how influential he has been to millions of other people worldwide. To close, I will share one of my favorite quotes of his: “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.” Thank you for everything, Madiba. If you would like to send a message to Mandela’s family, you can send one here.


  1. quixote says

    I know we all have to die some day, but it doesn’t change the fact that he should have lived forever. I’m so sad he’s gone. He did for the world what he did for Robben Island. All sorts of horrible places have become fields of flowers.

  2. M can help you with that. says

    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.

    Simone de Beauvoir had it as (translated) “To wish oneself free is to wish others free.” Two people who, at least most of the time, really understood what we as a species should be working towards.

  3. Karen Locke says

    I’ve scrolled through my Facebook page today seeing a lot of posts that, extracted from their vituperism, show Nelson Mandela had feet of clay. So do we all. He’s still a great man.

  4. Stacy says

    Madiba was Mr. Mandela’s clan name. He was also sometimes called “Tata,” which is an isiXhosa word meaning “father.”

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