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Nelson Mandela: Honoring His Legacy

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The resolve, restraint, and forgiveness shown by Nelson Mandela on the day of his inauguration were emblematic of his character and of his legacy.

On May 10th, 1994, Nelson Mandela spoke to the nation of South Africa as its first black President.    

 

At the time of his speech he was hailed for his enormous resolve in putting the rights of all black South Africans above his own desire for personal freedom, having spent 27 years as a political prisoner by a government notorious for its treatment of the country's black majority.   Given the suffering of the people who had voted him into office, Mandela's speech could understandably have been a paean to their fight, or to the victory of his party, the ANC, or an opportunity to triumph over his oppressors.

 

It was not.   

 

Mandela is revered worldwide not only for his resolve, but for his restraint and forgiveness. His speech was bold step towards reconciliation, without bitterness or malice, and the start of a new chapter for South Africa, the "rainbow nation" that would inspire the continent and the world.  

 

It was a display of forgiveness that few statesman could ever match. 

 

Among his most remembered words that day:

"The time for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world."

 

Read the transcript, or watch the entire speech below:

 

Honor Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday, December 5, after months of battling a lung infection.  He was 95 years old.

 

Over his lifetime Mandela was patron to more than 50 global charities, and donated one third of his presidential salary to the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.  Among his interests were HIV/Aids, ending hunger, and promoting local artists.