Nelson Mandela

It is enough nowadays for any writer to write that name to conjure up in peoples minds all that is good. Now that he has passed away, the great and the good in places all over the world are espousing what he represents, however I note they all use adjectives in their eulogies to him and I believe he was much more than that, I believe that what he did best, describes his achievements. He was a very active leader in the world and it was the things he did that define him, not what may appear sometimes to be trite adjectives of his undoubted and many qualities, but his living legacy  that he leaves with us all, individually, collectively and historically.

His book “Long Walk to Freedom” should be on every leaders list and throw out the rest, as the messages he gives us in this book will stand the test of time forever and all other theories of leadership, which are constantly regurgitated and sold to us as new, pale into insignificance compared to his simple philosophy of truth and compassion. He was a man of vision, who communicated his vision, simply and clearly to friends and foes alike, with equanimity and conviction that burned so brightly, none could afford to ignore it.So much so that he inspired others to strive for the common goals that he held so dear.

He believed passionately in equality, he never sought celebrity and remained a humble man all his life. In truth there are few to compare except perhaps Mahatma Ghandi and Mother Teresa. He is in exalted company, but what of the man and his achievements. He will say that he only showed the way, others achieved and yet he was the spark that lit the fire and turned it into the largest conflagration to blow away the last vestiges of one of the most evil regimes in the world. This he did without an ounce of bitterness, imbuing others with truth and reconciliation and demonstrating to them that revenge is neither a “dish best served cold” nor is it to be enjoyed, as this will always be at the expense of others.

Not all people agreed with the methods to achieve the ends on his behalf, and one particular leader would not participate or support sanctions or boycotts and before Margaret Thatcher passed away I often wonder if she considered the power of simple honest persuasion as so aptly demonstrated by Mr Mandela.

So what is his legacy ?

It is South Africa, the rainbow nation, but more than that, it is a philosophy for all people. It is one of Utilitarianism, that neither greed nor personal gain are the most important things in how we live our lives, but others. The human being no matter what colour, creed, size, shape, religion, class, education or disability matters beyond all else.

It is that individuals can make a difference, no matter what the obstacles that confront us or the power of the executive . Every individual has the power to make the smallest of dents in wrongdoing to such a degree that eventually the dam of truth and justice will burst forth and cleanse the wrongs and right the rights, bringing light into darkness.

Nelson Mandela was undoubtedly a great man and we will hear many eulogies and praise heaped upon him in the weeks and months and years to come. None of them will be enough, so is it not better just to recognise that and also to realise that in this particular instance words do not count or mean enough.

Long Live Nelson Mandela.