By Robert Guthrie
DUMFRIES, Scotland – The pillar of multi-racial democracy and the architect of a free South Africa is gone.
The death of Nelson Mandela was a sad moment in the United Kingdom. The uninvited, yet inevitable arrived December 5. Instantly, social media was buzzing with messages of condolence and compassion, appreciation and admiration, from all corners of the globe.
The atmosphere all around was dour and stern. Bouquets flooded memorials.
Probably one of the most memorable and appreciated leaders of all time, Mandela is one human being that I simply adore. I have the utmost respect for him.
His compassion, forgiveness and tenacity is contagious. By now, everybody knows his story, including his hard slog fighting for the end to such a disgusting regime.
In my view, apartheid is one of the biggest disgraces upon this world to date. To think that such heartless individuals in South Africa imposed a ruthless system of racial segregation upon innocent citizens is heart-breaking. For me, the worst part of it is that the white Afrikaners tried to crush the dominant black race. Life was limited in all measures, something which should never have been allowed to happen.
It has been enthralling to see the British response to Mandela over the years.
Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, referred to Nelson Mandela as a ‘terrorist,’ probably due to the very unlikely threat to the British Empire since South Africa had been a member state of the Commonwealth. In 1990, when invited to meet with Thatcher, Mandela accepted and proclaimed that Thatcher was now a friend.
An important lesson can be learned from this. Mandela was always such a humble human being, and in his later years showed that any problem could be solved simply through colloquy and compromise. He approached each predicament with such method and acceptance.
While I was not alive at the time of Mandela’s release from prison or inauguration as president, I know there is much to learn about Mandela’s “walk to freedom.” His own calmness is one of the most prominent lessons.
I’m sad that Mandela had his time for appreciating the good things about life shortened by his soul-destroying 27 years in prison, much of it on the notorious Robben Island.
It’s a shame that he did not get to spend as much time with his family as he probably would have wanted and that was denied the chance to go to his mother’s funeral.
However, Nelson Mandela contributed so much to humanity outside of those long years for which he was imprisoned. He furthered equality in South Africa and made all citizens feel welcome, a statement which can be emphasised by the fact that in 1994, the country’s flag was redesigned with six different colours showing the range of backgrounds of the people of South Africa.
Though living his life, Mandela motivated, inspired and encouraged so many of us.
His death is something not to be depressed about, but a cause to celebrate his life and all that Mandela was – all that he contributed to our global society.
As American poet Maya Angelou said, “His day is done.”
Yes. Nelson Mandela’s day is done. But his legacy will continue for years, decades and centuries to come.