There are too many brilliant and much better obituaries to Nelson Mandela on the web already for me to try and compete. But I can't not say something about the passing of this wonderful man, not when I spend so many hours and virtual print complaining about the selfish and uncaring citizens in society.
The photo above shows Mandela in 1990, not long after he had been released from his Robben Island prison in February of that year, the last of his confinement since 1963 when he had been sentenced to life for sabotage.
His life events are easy to find. As his so many inspiring speeches and quotations from these are easy to find [indeed there is one at the bottom of this blog!] He even passed into popular culture with the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert aka Free Nelson Mandela concert at Wembley in 1988 which was broadcast to nearly 70 countries [and btw which we watched on a tiny TV in an equally tiny caravan in Portsmouth!] And there was a story line on 'East Enders' in the early 90s when one of those cheeky Mitchell boys bought a job lot of cheap t-shirts to sell on, only to find they were emblazoned with 'Free Nelson Mandela' when he was already free.....
But Mandela was an icon and an inspiration to so many for his persistance, courage and his capacity for forgiveness.
I try to be a good person but unfortunately fall short too much of the time! Witness this morning, listening to all the tributes from politicians from all sides of the political spectrum to Mandela, and there I was thinking of various of the right wing variety 'Aha, that's not what you said when Mandela was locked up and 'my' side was campaigning to get him released. There were even suggestions from you/your side that he should be hanged not released'. And then dear Ken Livingstone came onto the radio and when the presenter put that very point to him, he just laughed and said '... well, Mandela would not have held a grudge!' and I instantly realised I have a long way to go before I can be 'nice' let alone 'good'...... And when the same presenter put the fact to Livingstone that Mandela's party, before he had been imprisoned, had been involved in civil unrest and violence which is why the then South African Authorities felt 'justified' in locking him and his comrades up, Ken Livingstone suggested that if the positions had been reversed perhaps Mandela's jailers would have used the same methods when they had no other way to express their claims for rights: no votes, no powers at all - pacifist me found myself nodding along.
In South Africa, citizens are celebrating Nelson Mandela's life. Here people are gathering outside South Africa House and queuing to sign the book of condolence at St Margaret's, Westminster. We are so lucky to have lived in this man's lifetime.
No one is born hating another person because of the
colour of his skin or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate,
they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally
to the human heart than its opposite.From A Long Walk to Freedom
Photo of Mandela 1990, courtesy of AFP