Nelson Mandela was probably the first name I ever associated with Human rights during my childhood. His relentless struggle against apartheid nurtured in me the fire against injustice. I identified with his struggle for Freedom and Equality; he was my human right hero and a living lesson in compassion and forgiveness. To me, the name ‘Mandela’ was (and still is) synonymous with anti-apartheid, defiance against injustice, fight for equality and a passion for justice. It later became synonymous with Forgiveness.
As a child growing up in the largest black nation, Nigeria, the name Mandela opened my eyes to racial injustice in the world. I was angry that he and other freedom fighters were incarcerated for demanding an end to apartheid.I was outraged at the very concept of apartheid and racial segregation.
I remember that fundraisers used to visit primary and secondary schools in Nigeria and passed around collection boxes to raise funds for the struggle against apartheid and the oppressed people of South Africa. I happily spared some of my lunch money to donate to the struggle in South Africa. This is my earliest recollection of the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa. Unfortunately, the relationship is not so cordial anymore. Xenophobia, mainly on the part of post-apartheid South Africans, reared its ugly head and has now tainted the once good relationship between the two countries.
Under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, South Africa emerged from the fight against oppression and apartheid to create a constitution in which equality was a major feature. On 8 May, 1996, South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And on 1 December 2006, South Africa made history by becoming the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage.
Nelson Mandela was an exemplary human rights crusader. Madiba was a staunch supporter of Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transsexual Rights. He practiced what he preached and respected the fact that every human being, including sexual minorities, has a right to be free from discrimination. I wonder what many homophobic Africans who hold him in high esteem and mourn his death think of the Madiba’s support for LGBT rights. If only other African leaders would borrow a leaf from the exemplary life of this great African leader, there really would be hope for Africa.
Yes, he was a much admired leader, a leader amongst leaders. Like every human, he had his shortcomings, but even in death, he remains a colossal idol, worthy of emulation.
Nelson Mandela’s life was a lesson in human rights, equality, compassion, peace and the importance of leaving bitterness behind to embrace forgiveness. He was my inspiration and he succeeded in inspiring a whole generation. No doubt his legacy will continue to inspire many generations to come.
There are many inspiring Nelson Mandela’s quotes, below are 15 Nelson Mandela’s quotes that I find very inspiring:
- “I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
- “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
- “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
- “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
- “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
- “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- “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.”
- “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
- “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
- “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself”
- “Let Freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement”
- “Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all”
- “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”
- “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right”
Nelson Mandela, you came, you saw, you conquered, you lived and you left a positive footprint on planet earth.
You have done your part, the struggle is for the living not the dead.
Your legacy lives on for future generations to learn and draw strength from.
Thank you, Madiba for the lessons in Equality, peace, compassion and forgiveness.
R.I.P. Great Son of Africa, Nelson Mandela (18 July, 1918-5 December, 2013).