One of the first posts I saw on FB this morning was about Nelson Mandela’s transition. This sweet soul inspired me in so many ways. His action in the 90’s encouraged me to pursue my passion for world peace as an actual college major. His leadership as a global leader transcended nationality, social status, race and ethnicity. His light is powerful and his voice stirred my soul. When I lived in West Africa in 2005, references to him and the pride that so many people felt for him provided new depth to a continents love for their courageous Madiba.
If you don’t know the story of his life, I would highly recommend his autobiography, or to watch one of the many films about his activism that brought down South Africa apartheid and began a nation’s healing. There are so many stories of how he transcended his anger and fear to walk into a life of spiritual and political reconciliation. Here is one that I appreciate, for it’s rawness, the vulnerability he expresses and the TRUTH available to all of us.
When Bill Clinton met Nelson Mandela for the first time, he had a question on his mind: “When you were released from prison, Mr. Mandela,” the former President said, “I woke my daughter at three o’clock in the morning. I wanted her to see this historic event.”
“As you marched from the cellblock across the yard to the gate of the prison, the camera focused in on your face. I have never seen such anger, and even hatred, in any man as was expressed on your face at that time. That’s not the Nelson Mandela I know today,” said Clinton. “What was that about?”
Mandela answered, “I’m surprised that you saw that, and I regret that the cameras caught my anger. As I walked across the courtyard that day I thought to myself, ‘They’ve taken everything from you that matters. Your cause is dead. Your family is gone. Your friends have been killed. Now they’re releasing you, but there’s nothing left for you out there.’
And I hated them for what they had taken from me. Then, I sensed an inner voice saying to me:
‘Nelson! For twenty-seven years you were their prisoner, but you were always a free man! Don’t allow them to make you into a free man, only to turn you into their prisoner!'”