An icon is gone. A once-in-a-lifetime hero has now passed the mantle to the rest of us to get it right. A real-life hero has transitioned his greatness to a much greater calling. The passing of former South African President and global humanitarian Nelson Mandela is an epic loss for the rest of the world.
It is, however, a triumph for God to call one of his angels home to b with him. What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant to Americans through his relentless fight in pushing the Civil Rights Movement, Mandela meant that and more for the oppressed people living under tyranny conditions of apartheid in South Africa.
He fought for democracy. He and his band of African National Congress (ANC) co-horts waged war against the apartheid-led governmental South African regime that gripped his country from 1948 until 1994. He survived the 27 years of being incarcerated to become celebrated as a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
He endured the decades-long designation of being a terrorist labeled by the South African and U.S. governments to become a revered global figure. Embarrassingly, it was not until 2008 when the American government decided to take the “terrorist” label off of Mandela, who was 90-years-old at the time. That didn’t stop Mandela from reaching out in forgiveness to his haters.
His will allowed him to help overcome all of the racist practices of segregation in South Africa to become the country’s first black president. He did not compromise for standing up for justice and equality for all. Remember the Clint Eastwood-directed hit movie “Invictus?” The film marvelously gave the world some insight into Mandela’s genius when he brokered a unity truce in his race-torn country by getting the nation behind the South African rugby team, which won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
He forgave his tormentors. He forgave those who wrongly imprisoned him for nearly three decades. Mandela took the high road to respectability and power. And that is what we will remember him for.