Why I Love Nelson Mandela and My Mother



My mother did not go to University. She did not give me a lot of money. But I love her.

My mother planted fruit trees even when she knew she would not live long enough to enjoy its fruit. That’s just the type of person she was. She worked hard and long in the fields to help feed the family, clothe us and ensure we had a decent education.

She was the most generous person I have ever met.

When it came to family and strangers, one of her favourite sayings was “Food is never too little to share.” Everybody was welcome in our home.

She also taught us not to be motivated by anger or revenge but by compassion.

I have never met Nelson Mandela, but like most people, I know enough about him to know that he is an exceptional human being.

Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the Apartheid government of South Africa for advocating equality of human beings irrespective of their race. He saw racists as black or white people who refuse to acknowledge the equality of all human beings. He believes in the concept of  “Ubuntu” (“Humanness”) – loving and caring for each other.

His biggest victory was when he was released as the victorious leader of the Africa National Party (ANC) to form the black majority government. He insisted that white people and black people need to live side by side in South Africa. He chose not to act out of  bitterness for what he had suffered as an individual. He saw peaceful co-existence as being more important than a personal desire for revenge for his internment. He led South Africa by example and challenged individuals to value the common good above their own individual issues.

“In seeking out his persecutors, Mandela seemed like the legendary ex-convict who hunts down all the people who betrayed him; but instead of murdering them, he forgave them.” (Sampson, Anthony – Mandela, the Authorised Biography)

Nelson Mandela has shown South Africa(and the world) how to act and respond with dignity, compassion and mutual respect for other human beings. South Africa rose to the challenge and formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Like Mandela, my mother led by example. I had the privilege of living with her under the same roof and of being inspired by her selfless life.

Forgiveness is a positive way of healing past injuries and moving into a better future.

Most of us are held back by our own negative internal dialogue in which we talk ourselves down and persistently highlight our past failings. We can be our own worst critics. Sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself.

Both my mother and Nelson Mandela will continue to inspire me long after they have gone. The ripples they have set in motion will continue into the future and many will enjoy the fruit of their labours. People will not even need to know them nor why they will benefit. It’s just the way love works.

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