What Mandela means to me
The emotion and respect that everyone has been showing since Mandela’s death has moved me more than I expected. I think that all of us have been reminded what a truly remarkable man he was, and how much he has impacted all our lives. I think of my many friends and colleagues who wouldn’t be in my life if apartheid had continued or if a vindictive liberation leader had taken over leadership of the country. I wouldn’t be friends with them – I probably would never have even gotten to know most of them in the first place.
I’m also grateful that he made it possible to be proud to be South African. We went from feeling like pariahs to feeling special. And we felt the ‘safety’ of knowing our leader was a good man. I think it’s true that there was a special mandate on his life, and that he lived it out, as difficult and heartbreaking as one can only imagine it was for him for most of his life.
Today is Mandela’s funeral. The shops are closed. The country is in mourning. We are all feeling the loss.
But we are grateful to have lived at the same time as him. And we are so incredibly grateful and blessed that he lived the life that he did.
Here are some of the special friendships I have been allowed to enjoy in large part because of how Mandela lived his life: