President Nelson Mandela: Rest in Peaceful Light

There are so few people in the history of our world that have accomplished as much as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. It almost seems contrived to write a memorial for a man who meant so much to so many people. In some cases, words are honestly not enough–sometimes it takes a feeling. The feelings I have about and toward President Mandela overwhelm me, and though I appreciate that everyone’s time on Earth comes to an end, it is with a heavy heart that these words appear on this page.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Mandela is best known for his revolutionary anti-apartheid movements.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Mandela was the first Black South African President, holding office from 1994 to 1999.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

While in office, Mandela’s administration focused on not simply breaking down its apartheid heritage, but also focused on poverty, inequality, and racism in all of its ugly forms.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

President Mandela (co) founded the Umkhonto we Sizwe, leading a bombing campaign against government targets — which led to his eventual arrest for “sabotage” and conspiracy to overthrow the government, resulting in his infamous sentence of life imprisonment.

“Let your greatness bloom.”

After 27 years, he was released from prison due to an international campaign’s fight in his honor.

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

President Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was published in 1994.

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

President Mandela was the father to six children, 20 something grandchildren, and a handful of great-grandchildren.

President Mandela had friends from the extremely famous to the important, but unknown.

Simply put, President Mandela was a friend to all.

And he was an inspiration to not just me, not just to Black people in the world, not just to South Africans, not just to humanity, but to the depths of the Earth. I am certain grains of sand, dew drops, rain clouds, and assuredly the rays of the sun itself felt the force and heart of Nelson Mandela.

Few men like President Mandela have ever existed. Few men ever will.

In fact, maybe no man like President Mandela has ever truly existed. We were lucky to have him for 95 years. We are even luckier to have his legacy for the rest of time.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

What a beautiful thing it is that after all of his time on Earth, all of the work he put into making our world a better place, all of the pain and suffering he endured to fight for what is right…what we will remember most is that beautiful smile.

Go light up the sky, President Mandela. You already lit up the world.


Featured image via duniamagazine, free Mandela image via flickr, smile image via izismile.