I hear the noise from the right wing, claiming Mandela was a “Terrorist,” that he applied “Torture” and “Violence” in accomplishing his goal of freedom. He probably did. But that is the way of the world, where a group of oppressed people rise up for their rights to a reasonable life.
Those in power never yield power without a fight. I believe it was John Kennedy who stated that when peaceful revolution is denied, violent revolution becomes inevitable. History records that the South African regimes that kept Mandela and his people down, committed atrocities far and beyond anything Mandela and the ANC committed against their government. Racism is violence.
I wonder…would Mandela’s detractors accuse George Washington and the Continental Army of being “Terrorists” because they used violence against the ruling power of England?
Mandela led the way to freedom for his people. As in most revolutions, his side had next to nothing in weapons or logistics. Revolution depends on the fire in the soul, the drive to make life better for the oppressed.
Was Mandela a “Communist?” his goals sound more like the U.S. Constitution than some group of despots who call themselves “Communist.” By the proper definition of the word, the world has never seen a true Communist regime.
Mandela was a great man, a great leader. I wish we had a Mandela in America.
Neal Smith is the Chairman of Indiana NORML
After visiting Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, KY, my uncle from India shared, “Being in the presence of where great men have been, gives us the opportunity to aspire to some of that greatness.” That quote has stuck with me through the years.
The last two weeks have been filled with reminders of greatness. Our country commemorated the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I was too young to see JFK in person, but I heard stories from my family members about what he inspired in them. This past week, the world mourned the loss of another leader, Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was someone I was able to see in person, someone who inspired us all by his own story, and taught us the best way to handle difficult situations. His response to his imprisonment taught us how to work together towards reconciliation. His example is something we can all use as we work to deal with others who do us wrong, or perceived wrong.
I was in middle school when I got to see Nelson Mandela in person accepting an award from the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. I don’t remember what he said, or if he even said anything at all. I just remember the presence of greatness.
I did not understand the depth of what this man meant to South Africa until my Sub-Saharan politics class at UK. Quoting the thesis from my research paper, “The South African nation was able to achieve its greatness and strength by the nationalism of its racially different groups, international scrutiny following World War II concerning apartheid, and the realization that a resolution to the racial conflict was necessary.” Nelson Mandela had a hand in each aspect of this to help South Africa achieve that greatness.
Invictus, the movie, captures this nationalism that South Africa experienced. Mandela was able to unify a nation over the World Cup Rugby Match. The title of the movie was inspired from the poem, by William Ernest Henley. Mandela would recite the poem from memory during his time in prison. The ending lines of the poem provide the most inspiration of all.
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
If Mandela could deal with everything he dealt with in his life, we can deal with what comes our way. That is his lasting impression and his sense of greatness for which we can all aspire.
Do not go gently into your twilight years….
Very hard to see pic but a special one to me of my father, grandfather and Colonel Sanders at the ribbon cutting ceremony launching the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at UK back in 1979 –and that is going stronger than ever.
I used to listen to my grandfather in his 80s as he would walk 18 to 36 holes of golf in a day (while I drove in a golf cart at age 17) declare that aging wasn’t a natural process but a form of disease that we could and should combat. Colonel Harlan Sanders who was virtually unknown outside his hometown of Corbin in his 50s but by the time he was 70 was one of the three most recognizable faces in the world, believed in staving off the effects of aging too.
The two men convinced my father to start a foundation to do something about their beliefs that would be backed by science and help thousands –maybe even millions—enjoy richer lives in their later years.
I was proud to receive this picture tonight on my father’s behalf and was reminded how fully my grandfather lived his life all the way to the end. Running unsuccessfully for Congress at 81. Handling front page criminal trials at the age of 84 and never saying never to anything.
Sue Wylie, an esteemed public affairs talk show host, interviewed my grandfather when he was in his early 80s and reflecting upon all of his losses when we ran for public office (he lost about 3 times more races than he won), she asked him,
“Well, Mr Brown…..Do you sometimes feel like a failure?”
My grandfather’s voice cracked in a generous and kindly manner as he began to smile and said while still keeping a steady gaze on his host,
“No honey. Look….I adhere to the belief that they only time you fail in this life is when you fail to try.” And after pausing and grinning even bigger adding, “And on that count I think I took about every chance I ever had.”
That’s a pretty good way to live your life. And hasn’t been lost on me or many others inside and outside of the family who knew him.
He would have been proud of his and his friend’s legacy tonight. And, of course, disappointed he wasn’t selected as the keynote speaker. ; )
I was driving when NPR announced the death of Nelson Mandela.
My instant response was to recite a verse from Quran 2:156 in Arabic, ”(إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.” It simply means, we belong to God and to God we shall return. I pulled over in the shopping strip, closed my eyes, and prayed. May God bless his soul and grace him with his eternal love. Mandela is with Allah now, Amen!
Then the second thought shook me up from my prayers. How would Muslims receive my response? It took me back to a severe situation I had encountered in April 2003. Prophet Muhammad’s and Buddha’s birthday fell in the same week, and on my Radio shows “Wisdom of religion, all the beautiful religions” I wished Peace be upon Buddha and Peace be upon Prophet Muhammad as I do with all the spiritual masters.
All hell broke loose, I was told to apologize for mixing the two individuals, and that I cannot say Peace to them in the same breath. A fatwa was in my face making my marriage null and void per some technicality. This is an age old technique employed by clergy in all religions, to frighten and to ex-communicate, thank God for the guts he has blessed me with. After considerable exchange of words, I concluded, go ahead and make my day, and no one has made my day yet, except the death threats I receive when I am on Hannity show.
As a Muslim committed to nurturing the pluralistic values embedded in Quran in building cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I am driven to express the sentiments of a majority of Muslims, who have prayed for Nelson Mandela, the man of peace in their own hearts.
God says (Quran, Bhagvad Gita and Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the holy book of Bahá’ís) that whenever the societies goes in disarray, someone from among them will restore the righteousness. God assures that he loves us all and sends a man of peace to every community. Indeed, blessed are the peace makers (Jesus).
Nelson Mandela was one of the righteous individuals; he was committed to freedom, liberty and justice of his people, by extension all people. The Bhagvad Gita says, the whole world is one family, i.e., Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum.
Quran 49:13, “O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.” Indeed, Mandela in the sight of God is the most righteous one.
God does not discriminate between Muslim, Jews, Christians and others, Quran [2:62] “Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians or anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day (accountability of one’s actions), and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
So as a Muslim, I prayed for Nelson Mandela, and it is time we all become like God and honor every human regardless of his belief. May God keep his wisdom and the flame of freedom alive! Praying for him in essence is rekindling the spirit of freedom within us.
He is one of my heroes, and I am influenced by his unselfishness and his larger embrace of humanity.
I can never forget the Sunday of February 11, 1990, it was an emotionally charged day for me, I was glued to the TV to watch the historic event happening in my life time; the release of Nelson Mandela from the South African Prison. I choked, and I cried.
Freedom is the most cherished value for me, and to see freedom at last for a man in an apartheid nation was worth crying. A new tone of democracy was going to be set in the world for the first time in the predominantly Black African Nation.
Can you imagine the power Mandela held? He shook the empire, they could have easily killed or poisoned him, but they did not have the guts to do that.
What made Gandhi, Mandela, and MLK successful?
None of them had anything to gain, all they wanted was justice and harmony in the society, and that was their drive, when you become unselfish, you can do a lot of good to the world. It begins with learning to respect the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Nelson Mandela is one of my mentors. Some of the other joy-teary moments that I can recall are – release of Mandela, fall of the Berlin wall, Obama’s election night, Peace treaty between Israeli and Egypt, Peace between Ireland and England, Aung San Su Kyii’s release and Freedom at last for the Egyptian people, and now his departure. This is my way of honoring him.
What made these men and women unique and powerful? They were free from the pettiness and were all embracing and affectionate like the spiritual Masters of all religions. Several things were common to them; among them are:
1) No wall between them and another soul
2) No religious and political boundaries for them
3) No preference when it came to serving another human
4) The good they did, benefited larger humanity than self
5) Justness was a paramount value for them
6) No bone of prejudice in them.
7) Their world is the same size as God’s world.
God bless Mandela, Amen!
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and
offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest onSean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.
In 1990, when Nelson Mandela first visited the United States, I had the pleasure of seeing him and hearing him speak at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.
I bought tickets for my children, Eric and Abby, and the three of us along with thousands of others sat enthralled as we heard him talk about gratitude and of his affinity for Detroiters. There on the podium with him were Detroit icons, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Rosa Parks.
My children and I have talked about this life enhancing experience many times in the ensuing years.
I also visited South Africa just at the end of his Presidency and was inspired and hopeful.
Though his promise isn’t fulfilled, he certainly kept his faith in his people.
Thanks, I made one minor subject very edit and one other small change: please use the version below!
Nelson Mandela should rank as the Man of the 20th Century and I would go so far as to say the honor is really not in dispute. If Franklin Roosevelt overcame a broken body and marshaled the world to conquer a monster, remember that 27 years in prison should have broken both a body and a spirit, and appreciate that Mandela had no global army to conquer his beast. There were other democratic founders who were tested in prison—Walesa, Havel—but no one else mastered conciliation so skillfully that they made their captors voluntarily negotiate the terms of their own political demise.
There were other visionaries who spoke to the soul, from Gandhi and John Paul II to Martin Luther King, but no one but Mandela translated vision to power deftly enough to re-make a nation so thoroughly and so swiftly.
Another measure of his stature is that to emulate him seems superhuman. The moral nature of Mandela, from the forbearance to the forgiveness to the restraints he self-imposed in response to a people who would have made him a civil king, is about as foreign to our fractious ways, and our self-promoting mindset, as our technology would be to a caveman.
There is one other aspect to Mandela that gets overlooked. He understood that the measure of a society is not its elegant constitutions or robust markets or even the most egalitarian laws but the extent to which its culture enshrines mutual respect. (Pay attention, liberals and conservatives!) The heartbreak of his life may well have been watching the ways apartheid kept diminishing his country, years after its rules were buried: the insidious manner in which the children of apartheid were too predisposed to turn into thugs; or demagogues who stuffed their pockets; or men who abused their women or women who debased their own bodies. The most gifted politician of the 20th Century knew that politics by itself cannot rebuild what a culture breaks.
On The Journey of Madiva Nelson Mandela…
Many will know you from his story books. Others from the news, with all its peculiarities. Still more from what they have heard, or stories yet told.
For those of us privileged to have lived as you lived, we will remember you… remember as you non-violently faced the ugly face of unspeakable inhumanity…remember you tried using the law to challenge an immoral system repressing just us. And when you picked up your spear, our people faced gas, guns and tanks; standing up as they fell down.
From across oceans of blood, and mountains of diamonds and dollars we heard your song, Madiva.
We heard the echoes from all those cells, on and off the island. We listened, learned and witnessed the transformative power of dying for a cause; and not just because… Oh, but if these young brothers would hear you today!
We celebrate your walk on this side. They rolled away the stone that was your prison door and we witnessed you walk among the people as if on air.
We heard your voice and saw the workings of your mind as a nation transformed itself when seen in the light of your mirror. You challenged, and you changed; now its on us to do the same.
Bless you for being a blessing to us all. Meegwetch.
Reginald Meeks is a Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing parts of Louisville
Nelson Mandela’s incredible example and leadership not just in South Africa, but globally, is one that we not only remember from the past, but must seek to emulate in our future.
Through some of the worst injustice a person can face at the hands of government, Nelson Mandela emerged believing that government could still be a force for good, change, and justice in the world. And then he lead and did the work necessary to make that happen.
Mandela supported so many causes that are still crying out for that kind of continued leadership and support from government today – organized labor, human dignity, and freedom from poverty, just to name a few.
Nelson Mandela reminds us that each person can make a difference in the world around them. I had the opportunity to meet his daughter, Zindzi Mandela, in New York at a premiere for “Long Walk to Freedom” just a few weeks ago, and heard her story firsthand – an incredibly powerful experience.
Mandela changed a nation with a steadfast and unwavering belief in what is right and just for all. A belief I still hold today, and an example I can only hope to live into a part of.
His example is one not only for his time, but for all time. I hope that we continue to hold up Nelson Mandela not only for the work he did, but for the work he can continue to inspire all of us to do.
Elisabeth Jensen is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress in the Sixth District of Kentucky.
I am very familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, having read the book. President Mandela and Desmond Tutu embody what we Christians like to believe we are like.
However, I cannot think of Nelson Mandela without thinking of this song that haunted me at the time. It is prescient and hopeful and quite moving. I still play it on YouTube when working and it reminds of what can be accomplished by those who never give up hope.
I was in the hospital in New Zealand at the time, and the Kiwis were having their own problems with the South Africans.
” (known in some versions as “Free Nelson Mandela
“) is a song written by Jerry Dammers
and performed by his Coventry
-based band The Special A.K.A.
- with lead vocal by Stan Campbell – released on the single Nelson Mandela / Break Down The Door
in 1984 as a protest against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela
by the apartheid
South African government. Unlike most protest songs, the track is upbeat and celebratory, drawing on musical influences from South Africa. The song reached No.9 in the UK charts and was immensely popular in Africa
If you have never heard it, check it out.
My wife, Bonnie and I just returned from 10 days in South Africa which included our “Nelson Mandela Day” last Friday. That day we visited the amazing Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, stood in Nelson Mandela’s house (now museum) in Soweto, visited Desmond Tutu’s house on the same street, took in an African restaurant for lunch in Soweto and the toured some of the adjacent neighborhoods. We also drove by and took pictures of the guarded compound in Jo-burg where he was spending his last days.
That evening, we went to see the opening of the movie “Mandela” because we wanted to view it with a local South African audience. It’s a powerful piece based on his autobiography and at several points during the movie, the audience laughed at things that were said in the movie – things that frankly passed over our heads. The audience was of mixed race – white Afrikaners (who speak Afrikaans), black Africans, Indians and others. There were a few mixed race couples – something that would have been a criminal offense just a few years ago. The audience was predominately white, perhaps because the cinema was in an upscale urban shopping mall on the Nelson Mandela Square in Jo-burg. The movie was very well received and the audience applauded at the end.
I had begun reading Mandela’s autobiography on the flight over. Like many chapters in history, you read them and wonder in retrospect how much attention you paid to the major events at the time they were occurring. I remember protests in the mid-seventies on my university campus encouraging the university to divest itself of its endowment holdings in companies doing business in S. Africa. I’m sure I read a few articles in Time magazine or the newspapers about the events unfolding across South Africa, but I’m embarrassed that I wasn’t more aware of the intensely racist system of apartheid that existed.
Mandela was truly a giant of the 20th century. I feel fortunate that last week I caught a glimpse of his history and profound contributions to humanity while he was still alive.
David Adkisson is the CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce