‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear’
Nelson Mandel 1918 – 2013
Nelson Mandela’s name has ‘become synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe’. That was the tribute paid by the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, whose words ring true.
It’s difficult to quantify the impact Nelson Mandela had on today’s world. Perhaps a good place to start is with the tributes that have been shared throughout the world. Each person will have their own memories of this great man, but for us his courage shone through and made the world a much better place.
Mandela went from tribesman to political activist to prisoner to President. He fought against institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, playing an intricate role in the transgression to democracy in South Africa. In doing so he inspired generations. From the highest levels of government to the humblest of citizens, he lit a fire throughout society that championed courage and reconciliation.
He practiced what he preached and worked tirelessly to build a better world, as his predecessor, former president F. W. de Klerk explained:
‘Mandela’s biggest legacy… was his remarkable lack of bitterness and the way he did not only talk about reconciliation, but he made reconciliation happen’
World leaders agree and for a generation Mandela embodied a world of courage, freedom and forgiveness.
‘A man of uncommon grace and compassion, for whom abandoning bitterness and embracing adversaries was not just a political strategy but a way of life’ – Bill Clinton
The African National Congress, the political party long associated with Mandela, likened him to one of Africa’s largest and sturdiest trees, a sentiment the world can appreciate today:
‘The large African Baobab, who loved Africa as much as he loved South Africa, has fallen. Its trunk and seeds will nourish the earth for decades to come’
Finally, U. S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to the global impact Mandela made:
‘We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages’
We honour his courage. We admire his commitment. We celebrate his life.