“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion, People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
So wrote Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom and with those words defined the greatest legacy of a man who legacy would be legendary beyond belief, if we today had not lived though at least some part of his remarkable 95 years.
After 27 years of vindictive imprisonment for his opposition to the colonial travesty of justice and human rights that was the oppressive practice of apartheid, Mandela walked out of prison to lead a nation shattered by injustice, a dysfunctional education system, a decimated economy, massive socioeconomic inequalities and years of war to the peaceful (!) dismantling of Apartheid and transition to “…the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities.”
Today, we stop to mourn, to honour and to contemplate the life of this truly great person. Despite all he accomplished, if his legacy is to become more than just a memorial, we must make his passion for inclusive justice an ongoing commitment that we carry forward in our own hearts and — most importantly — actions.
Mandela left us a very definite and clear cause dear to his heart that he asks us to pick up with the actions and resolution that brought a peaceful end to apartheid in South Africa — the gross injustice being perpetuated on the Palestinian people.
After the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, Mandela frequently proclaimed that his people’s “freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
Mandela called for Palestinian self-determination and statehood and spoke about how Palestinian people experience today the sort of “injustice and gross human-rights violations” that blacks endured under apartheid rule.
Speaking at the 90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu, Mandela declared, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Perhaps he was also speaking to my heart and to yours.