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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nelson Mandela, We Remember

It is hard to realize that it is twenty years since Nelson Mandela was released from prison. It is even harder to believe that he was imprisoned for 27 years to be released and be a witness for all of us as the remarkable human being he is. It is hard to imagine how anyone survives such a long imprisonment and maintains their sanity, their humanity; to be released ready to accomplish greatness.

(In the sidebar is an interesting musical tribute to Nelson Mandela on the 20th Anniversary of his release from prison.)

Nelson Mandela in Robben Island Prison, South Africa.

This is the poem that inspired and gave Mandela courage to not only survive but to maintain his humanity.


Out of the night that covers me,

black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever God there be

for my unconquerable soul.…

In the fell clutch of circumstance,

I have not winced, nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance,

my head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place or wrath and tears

looms but the horror of the shade;

and yet the menace of the years,

finds,and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

how charged with punishments the scroll;

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henry

It is from this poem the recent movie, Invictus, got its name. It is the story of Nelson Mandela, becoming President of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela, as the head of the African National Congress and first President of a free and democratic South Africa.

Mandela was wise enough to know that he should not run for a second term as President of South Africa. For the country to grow strong leadership needed to be shared. While he was seen as the father of the new South Africa, it was greater than any one man. South Africa belonged to all South Africans to make of it whatever greatness they can.Nelson Mandela has continued to inspire all of humanity as a World Statesman of the first order.

Nelson Mandela and F. W. de Klerk jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize.

At first it seemed strange than the oppressed and the oppressors would both be honoured on this occasion. Mandela would not have wanted it any other way for he refused the impulse of revenge and insisted the future belonged to all South Africans. In fairness, F. W. de Klerk had begun the process of ending apartheid before Mandela was released from prison. He was wise enough to have Mandela released without condition knowing he would come to lead the country in the future as the result of a democratically elected government.

These two men are an outstanding example of how two peoples of good will can resolve differences and create a new and just future. It takes statesmen of the first rank to hold the vision and lead the way.

There were others, white and black South Africans, such as Helen Susman, a courageous South African Jew of Eastern European origin.

Wherever their is conflict in the World, we wait for the leadership of great men of humanity of resolve it. I think of Israel and the Palestinians at this time when Israel is in the process of occupying the Palestinians through a system of apartheid. The experience of South Africa proves that such a road to go down ends at a dead end, where a new way must be found with the vision of great men and peoples capable of forgiveness, compassion and understanding.

The World awaits men and women of greatness. We shall always remember what Nelson Mandela has accomplished and show us a better way.


At 11:21 p.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Philip--isn't it just astounding that Mandela was in prison for almost 3 decades, that he was 70 when he was finally released, and that he still went on to help ease S. Africa out of apartheid, and to run as and be elected President.
He is one of the true moral force people of our time.

At 7:52 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Doesn't a man like this put most of our politicians in Washington to shame?
It is interesting to note how the adversity that he faced only made him more determined and strong...
whereas most of us live in luxury and self indulgence and it makes us weaker.

At 8:53 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so pleased you posted this reminder. He is one of the great historical figures that I admire most - along with Elie Wiesel. I am currently reading Long Walk to Freedom by Mandela. Twenty years ago - just after he was released, I had a chance to travel to S. Africa with a group involved with conflict resolution. . . but I was a very new employee in the position I still hold at the college, and the trip was at the beginning of our term, so I couldn't go. I don't regret keeping my job, but I often think about the other opportunity too. Nelson Mandel is an extraordinary man.

At 1:48 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

"Maintaining their insanity:" I love typos like these. I do them all of the time, but this one is really good.

At 8:23 p.m., Blogger Cathy said...

Hello Philip
He is/was a very good man indeed - but its strange that I can still hear my mother's comments when he was released - "he is a terrorist and should be treated as one and not let out. You never know what he may organise" Different generations think differently don't they
Take care

At 5:20 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

He is a wonderful man...


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