I spent all my youth and adulthood in the pursuit of the abolisition of apartheid. Nelson Mandela represented to us the icon of everything we were fighting for. His suffering and pain is world-renowned, but when you are in his physical presence he exudes an aura of softness and forgiveness that inspires you to be a better person. My children are well-versed in the history of apartheid and the fight against it and my account of meeting with Mandela is part of the family history. They do not only know him as the first president of our democratic Republic, global statesman, and freedom fighter, but also as the patriarch of this nation.
One of my fondest memories of meeting with Mandela is his fatherliness. This character trait of him is widely known through his commitment to child care and an undying love for children. The peace that surrounds him is magnetic as it draws you into a pool of calmness and confidence. His patriarchal role in the shaping of this nation is what is lacking in our world today. Leaders should return to this patriarchal model that was exemplified by Madiba in order for us to work towards generational continuity in this nation.
Lastly, the memory of meeting Mandela triggered a desire in me to live life with the aim of leaving a legacy. My life goal is no longer to be successful – adding value to myself – but to be significant, to add value to others. In comparison to his journey to freedom, I consider mine not such a long walk to freedom.
Quote: "He exudes an aura of softness and forgiveness that inspires you to be a better person."