Nelson Mandela: 67 minutes for 67 years

Nelson Mandela.

Image via Wikipedia

Sixty seven minutes to celebrate 67 years of service.

Nelson Mandela, 93 years old, we salute you.  A life lived to the full in serving a cause, but not so enslaved to it that he could not challenge and adapt and find new ways.  He emerged from the mud and the blood of an armed rebellion, a stifling prison cell, a lifetime in politics, a position of power, and from the grasp of those who would tame him.  He emerged stronger and more humble, a greater man than almost any other public figure you care to name, especially those who have come under the lure of politics and power.

Nelson Mandela has his detractors of course.  There are those on the “right” who dig for dirt because they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge, let alone embrace, greatness in someone who thinks differently, believes differently, or acts differently from them.  How tragic that Christians are found swelling these ranks.

There are those on the “left” who hate the idea of reconciliation; who will not share, who cannot forgive.  They demand retribution; some to satisfy their bloodlust, others because their share of the pie was smaller than expected; others because they demand someone to blame.  They cannot find freedom within themselves so someone else must be enslaved that their own slavery might seem like freedom. How tragic that Christians swell these ranks too.

Nelson Mandela’s greatness lies as much in what he has overcome and managed to achieve as in what he has enabled others to do. 

His legacy can be seen in this great land of ours, South Africa.  A nation birthed and nurtured under his loving care, his determination that the healing of wounds and the nurture of freedom are far more important for the building of a future, than triumph or revenge or power.

Nelson Mandela’s legacy has survived the racism that marked Thabo Mbeki’s reign and the ‘every man for himself, feeding at the communal trough’ legacy of Jacob Zuma.  Will it survive the lust for instant gratification of Julius Malema?  I don’t know.  I think that depends on how many 67 minutes are spent by ordinary citizens serving others, reminding each other of another way, calling one another to greatness rather than power.

Long before Nelson Mandela chose his way, Jesus said the first shall be last and the last first.  He said the one who wants to be first should be the servant of all and the way to save our lives is to lose them.  So the front is to be found at the back, the top can only be reached from the bottom, and real power is exercised through service.  How do we teach these truths to a nation?  Not by force; there are no quick fixes.  The only certain way is to live it out; at the risk of ridicule, rejection, and even death; to choose the way of service that goes beyond 67 minutes and becomes a way of life.

May I humbly offer this challenge as my 67 minutes of service, in gratitude and in admiration of a man at whose strength and grace one can only marvel?  Madiba, we love you.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Nelson Mandela: 67 minutes for 67 years

  1. Pingback: Nelson Mandela: his choices, our future | Simply Communicate

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