But His Mission Continues
Today, millions of South Africans as well as heads of state will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. By any criteria, Mandela was an extraordinary man. We can only hope that the essence of his perspective and philosophy haunt the current and future government and business leaders of South Africa as well as other countries.
The cornerstone of Mandela’s leadership was forgiveness and conciliation. He encouraged and emphasized collaboration between opposing factions to establish middle ground so that the country could be transformed.
Mandela believed wholeheartedly that transformation would enable the bitterness and hatred festering in tens of millions of Black South Africans to be healed.
One of the most memorable experiences of my life was visiting this extraordinarily beautiful country. The people of South Africa are a noble and resilient people and what they have endured – continue to endure – was sobering.
South Africa is still finding its way out of the abomination called apartheid. The ravages of 4 1/2 decades of that overt racist and brutal government system is taking longer to undo than its citizens can wait.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” *
Madiba’s long walk ended on Thursday December 5, 2013, but the journey is not yet completed.
As the people of South Africa find their way to the full freedoms and advantages that we take for granted everyday in this great country of ours, I wish them a quicker realization of their basic needs and desires. I hope the caring and wise spirit of Madiba covers and guides them until then and beyond.
I look forward to visiting this beautiful country and its people again soon.
*From Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, p. 554