Nelson Mandela was an inspiration. You may have heard his name, now know why he deserves his place in humanity. Plus some of the best Nelson Mandela Quotes.
Perhaps we have all bought into the very first ideology. A lie. That order is possible, and that humanity is inherently good. What if life is not about the great things we can achieve despite difficulty, but rather the random chaos of miseries we must survive?
There seems to have always been this long fight between good and evil. And though we delude ourselves, evil keeps surprising us, both externally and within our personal lives. History gives us no reason to hope that this will ever change. For every Mother Theresa, there is a Heinrich Himmler. For every celebrated revolutionary, there are his ultimate weaknesses that give way to a dictatorship. For all our advancements and technologies, eternal problems like poverty, racism, and war continue to evolve.
It is possible that suffering defines our existence, the Buddhists already agree.
Perhaps humanity is rotten. Maybe human beings are destined to suffer the afflictions of their time, permanently, helplessly. Our Story.
“Honour belongs to those who never forsake the truth even when things seem dark and grim, who try over and over again, who are never discouraged by insults, humiliation and even defeat.” — NELSON MANDELA
But we did have Nelson Mandela. He is once living proof. Even though most of us choose the dormant life, each of us has the capacity for greatness. If only we would engage our passions, defy our struggles and commit to hard work, like Mandela.
Thus we must ask if we are instruments capable of greatness, are we not a species of importance or does reality discount potential, only honouring the actuality of the majority?
It would seem that because we have Mandela, it is clear that each of us has a role to play in our answering of these questions. How have you chosen to live your life?
Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, his adoptive father, saw that Mandela received proper discipline, groomed thoroughly with African customs. As a child, after the death of his birth father, Nelson Mandela was raised him to be a leader of the Thembu tribe, educated to understand that blacks in Africa were once peaceful. Africans were not unlike the nearly exterminated Native American’s of the United States.
Mandela once listened, during a circumcision ceremony, as Chief Meligqili explained that Black Youth in South Africa had lost their lands to white men. Among a privileged group of a disenfranchised race, Mandela found his calling. He would free his people so that they too may live on their lands as their ancestors once did.
Liberation. Or nothing. Success was unlikely but wholly worthy of his complete devotion, the only thing that mattered.
He showed himself to be a natural rebel, expelled from the prestigious University of Fort Hare for organizing a student strike.
Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. He fought for the essentials, like education, opportunity, the rights of workers, and full citizenship in one`s land.
His passions festered, and his commitment solidified as The Afrikaner lead Nationalist Party of South Africa instituted the apartheid, systemizing segregation and oppression.
NELSON MANDELA: BEST INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES
Africans, on African soil, in their home nation, couldn’t vote. It was the white imperialists, who colonized the land and dictated civil rights. The apartheid is a farce of human wickedness and indecency. A black man could be arrested for dating a white woman, IN HIS COUNTRY. Blacks had curfews. They were often fired upon during peaceful protests or illegally detained. Blacks were servants and less, living in grimy villages of mud, huts, and disease.
The father of South Africa was active and nonviolent. He leads with a reliance on civil disobedience, protests, boycotts and even opened up a law firm offering affordable counsel to blacks.
He did it all the peaceful but noisy way until he relinquished that force, reconsidering the circumstances, had its value. He founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (the Spear of the Nation), which would be the terrorizing arm of his movement. Guerilla war tactics, sabotage, and intimidation were used for good, against the crueller white government.
“One of the things I learnt when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” — NELSON MANDELA
Madiba justified, “it would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and nonviolence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force. It was only when all else had failed when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle.”
Eventually, Mandela would be arrested. And up until this point, he reads like your typical modern day freedom fighter.
On Trail for treason, in the Riviona Trails, facing perpetual bondage, Mandela revealed himself fully. Against spiteful foes, an entire government, for his people, he defiantly declared:
“I have cherished the ideal 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 needs are, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
“I am prepared to die!”
And this is where I find the story. Our story. Mandela is undeterred. His life is his sacrifice.
Incarceration was Mandela`s opportunity to break; surely no one could question his lack of drive after the 20th year without freedom. But Mandela was a testament to the strength of character. He proved that human beings can withstand any and all adversity.
27 YEARS! He didn’t flinch.
From historic reports, it is concluded that he endured the very worst of treatment. Black political prisoners like himself were forced to hard labour in lime quarries. They were ridiculed and often punished without cause. Robben Island prison was infamous for its humiliating practices, never above urinating on and torturing prisoners. Still, Mandela maintained his dignity.
Prepared to die, through and through. He existed for the people, earning a degree in Law behind bars, through hard labour, without the realistic hope of freedom. What are your excuses again? A few years in Jail is supposed to weaken political prisoners. That is why we don`t remember the vast majority of them. Such torment and seclusion would break 99.999% of us. And for some, it strengthens resolve. Mandela had 27 years of trained commitment.
There were plots for his assassination. He was even teased with a release. President P.W. Botha, in 1985, was willing to send Mandela home if only the political symbol would renounce armed resistance. Mandela chose to continue in Prison indefinitely.
“I am Prepared to die.”
He proved that human beings can be unstoppable when fuelled by purpose.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — NELSON MANDELA
Mandela was released by President Frederik Willem de Klerk, in 1990. Out of prison, Mandela found himself in a unique position for a revolutionary. He made his arguments directly to the established ruling class, on their grounds. As the new leader of the ANC, he fostered a stable political rapport with de Klerk. Mandela could negotiate for an objective that was immovable while coordinating armed resistance against the oppressors with whose hands he shook. He would eliminate the apartheid by any means.
Still, being the father of the people while respected by the master, is a delicate place to be. About where most would succumb to the poisonous allure of power. People can rise above.
He became President of South Africa on May 10, 1994, uncorrupted. A leader driven only by his motivation to end exploitation and injustice. For any of the 27 years he was incarcerated, at any one moment he could have given up, but he chose not to. As President, he worked tirelessly to transfer power back to the people. But most importantly, he strove to reconcile his nation.
He preached forgiveness, holding no ill will towards his jailers, encouraging blacks to forgive and accept. Mandela asked whites to reconsider and share, famously supporting the National Rugby team, a long time symbol of division. Mandela shocked you with kindness in the face of adversity, all the while willing to strike a bloody blow if you refused equality.
He fought till the end, ultimately writing a book, The Struggle is my Life.
Like President George Washington, the first chief of staff of the United States, Mandela could have been King. He could have ruled till he died. But, with humility and vision, he stepped down after his first term, not before introducing a new Constitution in 1996. His South Africa would empower the majority while safeguarding the rights of the former enemy.
“Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.” — NELSON MANDELA
In 1999, he continued away from politics, on a grander mission, to end human suffering in the world. He became a voice in the fight against AIDS. World peace was more than a soundbite for him, and he became the global ambassador for humanitarian efforts.
In the end, he proved that human beings can achieve the impossible. And because he was only a man, he was every man. His life, an example of inexplicable greatness we may achieve if only we’d choose to.
He died on December 5, 2013, as the excellent standard of resolve, especially when idealism most needed sound reason and action. His will was unwavering. When tempted, the human weaknesses that disappoint our best intentions could not move him. Despite prosecution, imprisonment, death threats, and a bloody Civil Rights war, he forever lived for his people.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” — NELSON MANDELA
So which is it then, which is the story of humanity? Is it a tale of our very best? Or are we a doomed species of greed, selfishness, survival and indifference? There are two sides, and we all must choose one. Are we our great but dormant possibilities or are we objects made to endure the oscillations of misery and opportunity, whenever either presents itself?
More personally, are you the type to fight for change or would you rather figure out your life, leaving the rest to fend for themselves? What is your story?