Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. An intense life. From 27 years in prison to leading South Africa out of the apartheid, become its first black president, Nobel laureate, one of the world’s most influential men of the last decades.
He said in his memoir
“When I walked out of prison that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and oppressor both,” “The truth is that we are not yet free. . . . We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
He also said in one of his mod celebrated quotes:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color 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.”
Pope Francis on Friday paid tribute to Nelson Mandela expressing his hope that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and common good at the forefront of their political aspirations.
The Pope’s words came in a telegram of condolences that he sent to the South African President, Jacob Zuma.
In his telegram the Pope said:
It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his profound sadness at the passing of Nelson Mandela, extolling the life of the late human rights lawyer, prisoner of conscience, international peacemaker and first democratically-elected President of post-apartheid South Africa as an inspiration for all.
“Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration,” Mr. Ban said at UN Headquarters in New York.
“On behalf of the United Nations, I extend my deepest condolences to the people of South Africa and especially to Nelson Mandela’s family, and indeed our global family.”
Mr. Ban noted that many people worldwide were greatly influenced by Mr. Mandela’s selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom.
“He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations.”
“Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us – if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity,” said the Secretary-General.
“His moral force was decisive in dismantling the system of apartheid,” said Mr. Ban. “Remarkably, he emerged from 27 years of detention without rancour, determined to build a new South Africa based on dialogue and reconciliation.”
Mr. Mandela devoted his life to the service of his people and humanity, and he did so at great personal sacrifice, said the Secretary-General, who said he was moved by the late leader’s “selflessness and deep sense of shared purpose” when the two men met in 2009.
“Let us continue each day to be inspired by his lifelong example and his call to never cease working for a better and more just world.”
Recalling his memories of meeting Mr. Mandela, the Secretary-General said he had been deeply touched and inspired. “When I praised him for his lifelong contribution to end apartheid he said ‘It is not only me, but hundreds and hundreds of known and unknown people that contributed.’ That has stuck with me ever since.”
US president Obama delivered a statement on the passing of former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, calling him
“a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” the President said. “So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.”