“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”
As South Africa and the world mourns Mandela, I reflect upon these final words of his epic tome, The Long Walk to Freedom. As we all know, Mandela was a brilliant politician, statesman and peacemaker. But what truly amazes me about this man is his strength of character. After a lifetime of abuse and imprisonment, Mandela was able to emerge a man free of hatred towards his opressors, free of the vemon and spite so corrosive that it poisons the heart.
Mandela’s humanity is so great that it crosses all temporal and spatial borders, it is eternal. As one friend remarked to me on the eve of his passing, “Someone like that never dies”. Indeed although the man may be gone from the earth, the way in which he lived his life stays on and gives strength and purpose to those who are fighting to heal and change this troubled world.
Photo courtesy of Liz McGrath.