Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remembering Nelson Mandela



This morning, I attended the memorial service for the late South Africa President Nelson Mandela.

This service was organized by South African Ambassador Agnes Nyamande-Pitso and the embassy of South Africa, with many dignitaries and individuals with close ties to South Africa attending.



REMEMBERING MY VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA
12 MONTHS AGO

Being in this memorial service made me remember my trip to South Africa last year, when I passed by Nelson Mandela's home in the affluent neighborhood of Houghton, and then visited the cell he spent years in, on Robben Island.

Nelson Mandela died in this very home in Houghton that we went to see, on our very first morning in South Africa, just over 12 months ago.



A VISIT THAT MADE AN IMPRESSION

Then, of course, our visit to Robben Island was unforgettable.

It was particularly heavy, as you cannot but feel affected by the obvious despair and torture that the prisoners on this island had to undergo.

I still remember very clearly how I thought of Nelson Mandela's almost infinite patience and great capacity for forgiveness -- after spending over 1/4 of his life on this island, in great hardship -- as we walked through endless rows of cells in the main jail house.

The solitary confinement cells

He survived all kinds of physical and mental torture, and the most appaling jail conditions. He also experienced an almost inhuman kind of solitary confinement, just opposite some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world -- which he could never see and enjoy.

And yet, when he was finally released from his imprisonment, he preached forgiveness for the sake of national unity. He campaigned tirelessly for this.

May he forever now rest in peace.


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