Tag Archives: Nelson Mandela

Obama Honours Nelson Mandela – A Gem of a Speech

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Today all of the world came to South Africa to pay tribute to Tata Madiba. Thousands braved Mother Natures tears to say farewell. Barack Obama gave the most moving tribute from his heart. For those who missed it here is what he said:

To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of state and government, past and present; distinguished guests – it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other. To the people of South Africa – people of every race and walk of life – the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. …Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.

It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.

Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe – Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would – like Lincoln – hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations – a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.

Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood – a son and husband, a father and a friend. That is why we learned so much from him; that is why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.

Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Certainly he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.”

But like other early giants of the ANC – the Sisulus and Tambos – Madiba disciplined his anger; and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand-up for their dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial. “I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.

Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa- Ubuntu – that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. We can never know how much of this was innate in him, or how much of was shaped and burnished in a dark, solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailors as honored guests at his inauguration; taking the pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves. It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.

For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe – Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate his heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?

It is a question I ask myself – as a man and as a President. We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took the sacrifice of countless people – known and unknown – to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are the beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America and South Africa, and countries around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war – do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child in Qunu. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows us that is true. South Africa shows us we can change. We can choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world – you can make his life’s work your own. Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land. It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities – to others, and to myself – and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength – for his largeness of spirit – somewhere inside ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach – think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell:

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.

What a great soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.

Madiba

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Over the last week all South Africans have become very worried about the ill health and hospitalisation of the GREATEST ICON in our country Nelson Mandela affectionately known as Madiba.

This amazing old man has captured the hearts of so many around the world be it in sports, music, Hollywood, Bollywood and politics. I recall visiting Jamaica a few years ago and be shown the Nelson Mandela Highway , the tour guide refered to the high as Mandela Highway this infuriated me that I stopped her and said have respect for one of the Greatest Men that has ever lived.Thats how patriotic I am .

Many South Africans will recall us winning the 1995 World Cup Rugby and our beloved Madiba there with the trophy .As I write this i feel the tears pricking in my eyes and the goosebumps on my arms appearing.

DEAREST MADIBA

We SOUTH AFRICANS love you and appreciate all that you have done to build and bring together our beloved rainbow nation. We pray that you dont suffer any longer …. your smile , your sense of humour and your wise words will live on forever ….

Hamba Gahle
xxx

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A few ago ago, I was approached by Ross Hudgens from Travelstart. Ross asked if I would be interested in allowing them to post a travel blog on my site. I was super excited yet again to be approached by a Travel company as I love adore travelling.So in keeping with my theme of 5 Ross created this lovely post. I hope you enjoy reading this post and earmark some of the sights to visit next time you find your self in Cape Town.

While it is true that you will always find new and interesting things to do in Cape Town, no matter how many times you have visited, first time visitors to the Mother City have the advantage every time.
No traveller will ever forget their first experience of this popular coastal city on the tip of the African continent. The wonder may start once you head out from the airport, or it may begin as you get your first glimpse of Table Mountain’s distinctive flat top. By the time you arrive at your chosen hotel or guest house though, you will very likely have fallen head over heels for the Mother City’s beautiful surrounds.
Just in case you need a little more inspiration, here are some must-sees that will put Cape Town on your list of favourite places.

1) Table Mountain Named after its unique shape, the mountain is more than just a definitive landmark. For those who have made the city their home, it is also a navigation system. One billboard displayed during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup put it perfectly: mountain on the right, ocean on the left and everything else in the middle.
Take a cable car up to the top on a clear day for a panoramic view, try a full moon hike up Signal Hill one evening or head to Blouberg Beach for picture-perfect images of the mountain in all its
glory.

2) Cape WinelandsComprising the wine growing towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, the Cape Wine Route offers the chance to savour the Cape’s finest wines. Stellenbosch is the most famous of these towns, and is also one of the oldest towns in the country.
Here you will find many award-winning estates along with boutique wineries, five-star cellars and many excellent dining options – all mixed in with a good dose of historical charm, picturesque views and a laid-back atmosphere.

3) Robben Island Former president Nelson Mandela spent over two decades on Robben Island, incarcerated for speaking out against what was then the apartheid government. His release captured the hearts of millions around the world, and also brought change to South Africa as it entered its first era of democracy.
Visit the Robben Island Gateway Museum at the Clock Tower in the Waterfront, and then take a ferry over to the island itself. You will come back inspired and amazed, with a deeper insight into Madiba and his fellow struggle icons.

4) BeachesCape Town beaches have a bit of an unfair advantage – the city is surrounded by two different oceans for a start. On the Atlantic Ocean side, you will find the beaches of Camps Bay, Clifton (1st to 4th), Llandudno and Hout Bay. The water is chillier on this side, but the beaches are truly spectacular.
On the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula lies the False Bay. This coastline includes Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Boulders Beach (home to African penguins that join you for a swim) and Simons Town. The warmer waters make this coast great for swimming, while shark diving can also be done here for those wanting a thrilling marine encounter.

5) City Centre Last but certainly not least, we have the City Centre. TIME magazine called it a bit ‘seedy’, comparing it to Miami’s inner city. But for the thousands of visitors who flock to Cape Town ever year, seedy is not even remotely the way this vibrant CBD would be described. Some would call it eclectic; others may refer to it as diverse. A few even hail its historic slash retro vibe.
Talk a walk down Long Street to browse the colourful shops or grab a bite to eat at a trendy sidewalk café in Bree Street. Check out Green Market Square or St. George’s Mall for locally made curios and drumming sessions. Visit the SA Museum and have a stroll through the Company Gardens – if you buy a bag of peanuts, you can even feed a friendly squirrel or two.
These must-see highlights will be a good place to start your journey through the Mother City. But the best part about trips to this part of the world is that you will find myriad other things to see and do along the way too. Every day offers the chance to try new things to do in Cape Town – for visitors of all ages and stages.

Russell Jarvis writes for Travelstart.co.za, South Africa’s leading travel agency.

For more information on fab holidays checkout http://www.travelstart.co.za