- Posted December 6, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Nelson Mandela: Your memories
Admiring the Unknown: Nelson Mandela
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
I’m sure some think it’s ridiculous that I would feel any need to write about someone I have no connection to. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t pretend to understand in the slightest the grave injustices that have been carried out against the people of South Africa. I am a young white woman from London, very lucky to be born into a comfortable and loving world free from discrimination. I have never been told, “no, you can’t walk here” or “no, you can’t eat here”. I will never have to demonstrate or protest against anything on this planet in the way that Nelson Mandela did. So what is so powerful about Mandela’s story is that his message still rings true with all those who hear it, whatever culture or environment they are from, and that includes me. Equal opportunities, social equality, desegregation, democracy, education, human rights, respect for others… these are all values that every person in a “developed” society should be striving for. Succumbing to, or supporting, anything less than these standards hinders Mandela’s legacy and the integrity of our futures.
To not only promote democracy and anti-racism, but to actually embody all that these things stands for, is an awe-inspiring thing. Mandela turned a philosophy into a way of life; he exchanged ideas and thoughts for action and reaction, and fought hard and long for what he truly believed was right, and true, for a better world. To have such unwavering conviction and faith in a world that has reaped so much pain and hostility against you, is something so profoundly rare. Personally, in my own humble and insignificant life, I can do the forgiving part when I am wronged, but the forgetting is the hard part. How Mandela sat in a cell for 27 years, looking out at Table Mountain, knowing the injustices happening against him and to his people, and not have broken from it is beyond me. What’s more, to finally be released from prison and be able to see past the wrongs of his oppressors, and to utilise the unique strength he knew he had to cultivate a new world, is nothing short of heroic. Mandela created a South Africa freer from racism than anyone in this beautiful country had ever known. The resilience of his human spirit is something that I can’t quite get my head around, and just goes to show that greatness really does thrive from suffering. (So stay positive when you are down – people have overcome much worse!).
To truly forgive is one of the most admirable things you can do in your lifetime, and probably the only way to reach an old age and die in peace. For that reason, I know many people’s “RIP” prayers on here are fruitless, because Mandela is already in peace. Knowing that he did all he could, and gave his all, and influenced a movement and a way of life so powerful that it will be hard to ever match his struggle, in this lifetime or the next. Here’s to you, Mandela, and the people of South Africa. Thank you for having me in your remarkable city. I will be coming to the State Funeral, if I can!