Nelson Mandela, a Hero for Our Times

Chris Ruddy: Nelson Mandela is a hero for all of us

Nelson Mandela, 2008.

Nelson Mandela was a hero as well as a leader. During my visit to South Africa, I visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. The museum, which was shaped by Mandela himself, serves to educate people about the system of racial segregation through the life and eyes of Nelson Mandela.

While incarcerated, Mandela was viewed as a Marxist supporter. Perhaps because he saw this as the only ideology able to inspire his people. With few comforts, loneliness, and arduous physical labor, Mandela survived a total of 27 years of imprisonment. While these years were painful, they galvanized his commitment for a free South Africa and his capacity for forgiveness.

That forgiveness was evident in Mandela’s break from Marxist ideology upon his freedom. Mandela decried the dictatorships of Castro, and closer to home, Mugabe. He instead chose to look towards the teachings of Martin Luther King and Ghandi as models for a new political and social future for South Africa.

The museum is a monument to the universal ideals of freedom, human dignity, and democratic values. Nelson Mandela embodied these ideals during his lifetime and the legacy of his efforts continue to inspire all those who know of him. Nelson Mandela understood that “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.

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