On life…and learning

How I Remember Nelson Mandela…

with 2 comments

imagesAnother day of unease passed by today in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, greatest hero of the nation, is tragically unwell. Prayers are being offered, not only in South Africa, but also all over the world. He is a true hero in many senses…

Today, I am reminded of a day of year 1988, 25 years ago. Studying in the 3rd standard, I was growing up learning about Shaheed Sardar Bhagat Singh, who, to date is my role model. On that day, I remember asking Ms. Chowdhary, my school teacher, “Miss, is there any other person in this world who is just like our own valiant Bhagat Singh?”

Bhagat Singh“Yes, there is, my son. His name is Nelson Mandela”, she replied. That was the first time I heard his name.

Now that Nelson Mandela is probably living his last days, I am reminded of this conversation quite vividly. I remember Ms. Chowdhary, a superb teacher, sharing some stories about him with me. They stayed with me, and probably, left a lasting impression on my formative years. I went on to read and learn a lot more about Nelson Mandela, his life, his values & believes, his leadership & bravery, clarity of thought & purpose and above all, the strength of his character. And really, he appeared to me a man very similar to Bhagat Singh.

Seven sentences of his that I am quoting below will tell you what a man he was and why I can surely call him ‘Bhagat Singh of South Africa’:

  • I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.
  • Nonviolence is a good policy when the conditions permit.
  • Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.
  • For 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.
  • I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people…
  • Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
  • Our single most important challenge is… to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.

They say, Mandela admired Mahatma Gandhi. Something in me tells, he would have admired Bhagat Singh as well. After all, he was more like him than Gandhi…

I am praying for him…


Photo-credit 1: guardiantv.com

Photo-credit 2: hindustantimes.com

Written by RRGwrites

June 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Looking back, I’ve always remembered Nelson Mandela as the “African Abraham Lincoln”….some of his quotes have been my favourite too…

    “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

    “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

    And the best of all,

    “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”


    July 3, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    • Rubina, very well said. You have added a lot to the blog and I am sure readers will learn more about this great hero through your comment.


      July 3, 2013 at 8:46 PM

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