|Nelson Mandela was awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto in 2001|| |
Yesterday, December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the ripe old age of 95 years. What an incredible life he lived! Although in his early years, he certainly was no saint, in fact he became quite radical at one point, justifying the use of violent resistance against the South African Apartheid regime.
Mandela has been described, among other things as: The African Lincoln, noble yet humble, Father of the nation [i.e. South Africa], prophet, brilliant leader, courageous peacemaker, and so forth. We Canadians awarded Mandela an honourary citizenship and adopted him as a member of the Order of Canada, we also named a school after him. Of course, in many respects Mandela was also not only a citizen of his own nation, but a citizen of every nation-especially regarded as such, I think because of his political giftedness and compassion for humankind.
Without question, he was an inspirational exemplar and hero of the black citizens of his nation, and of blacks in general in all of Africa and around the globe. Yet, he had feet of clay like the rest of us, and he at times was the first to admit it. He had, in his earlier years, intimidated and bullied an East Indian leader, removing him off the stage at a public gathering. In humility that bespeaks repentance, he admitted on one occasion publicly that he had failed as, and had been a poor husband to his first wife. He also publicly spoke words of compassion rather than condemnation regarding his second wife, when he was asked about an alleged adulterous relationship with another man.
Yet his charisma and sense of doing the right thing at the right time in a symbolic way, earned him the respect of even his worst enemies-including P.W. Botha's wife, whom he visited shortly after her husband's death.
I think the most significant thing we as Christians can learn from the life of Nelson Mandela is his brilliant capacity to forgive and work for reconciliation with his enemies. In this regard, he was extremely successful, and deserved winning the Nobel Peace Prize. South Africa could have devolved into a brutal civil war, however against all the odds, Mandela's brilliant leadership led the nation into a state of forgiveness, peace, justice and reconciliation. May this legacy of Nelson Mandela live on in the history of South Africa, as well as the history of humankind! REST ETERNAL GRANT NELSON MANDELA, O LORD; AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM.