Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people… Nelson Mandela
Today the world lay to rest a great man, my hero – Nelson Mandela. There are many reasons why I greatly admire Mandela, but I would like to share just one with you today as I remember this fearless and selfless fighter for justice, human rights and democracy.
On June 11, 1964, Nelson Mandela was found guilty of four charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In a statement given in his own defense at the start of the trial in Pretoria on April 20, 1964, Mr. Mandela said these words:
During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, my lord, if needs be it is an ideal for which I’m ready to die.
I have a great deal of respect for men who hope to live for and see what they truly believe in become a reality. But I have a greater respect for those, who for those same beliefs and ideals, are ready to die. This is the thing that sets the men apart from the boys, the selfless from the selfish, the tenacious from the cowardly, the leader from a dreamer, the visionary from the want-to-be.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Madiba – thank you for your willingness to lay your life down for your people. You did so in so many ways and the world took notice. Most African countries would be better if their leaders would simply emulate your life and your leadership.
May your soul rest in perfect peace!