The world is in mourning as inspirational South African leader Nelson Mandela died Thursday in his Johannesburg home at the age of 95.
Premier Christy Clark issued a statement yesterday calling Mandela “one of humanity’s true heroes” while many other leaders around the world also gave statements speaking to Mandela’s integrity, bravery and, above all, capacity to forgive.
U.S. President Obama said Mandela inspired millions of people to work for freedom and democracy, himself included.
“He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages,” Obama said.
Mandela led his country through apartheid, after he was jailed for 27 years serving hard labour for his political role in fighting the racial segregation that existed.
Although jailed for life, Mandela was released from jail in 1990 and received a Nobel Prize. Mandela was later elected South Africa’s president in the country’s first multi-racial elections held in 1994. His ability to survive his captivity through forgiveness proved to be his greatest strength, making him a world figure on a calibre we will likely not see again in our lifetimes.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rightfully called Mandela the most powerful symbol in the world for the struggle and success against racial discrimination.
“Despite his long years of captivity, Mr. Mandela left prison with a heart closed to calls for a settling of scores. Instead, he was filled by a longing for truth and reconciliation, and for an understanding between all peoples,” Harper said Thursday.
“He demonstrated that the only path forward for the nation was to reject the appeal of bitterness. His forbearance was legendary: his magnanimity spared all South Africans incalculable suffering.”
Throughout his life Mandela left us with many memorable words to ponder. Here is just one example, spoken at his inauguration.
“The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us … We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity — a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.” – Nelson Mandela.