Nelson Mandela was one of those human beings that, despite their physical disappearances, are still alive and will stay alive forever because they stopped belonging to themselves so they could become a heritage of humanity.
It may sound very commonplace to say that Nelson Mandela – Madiba as he was fondly called by his people in South Africa – has not died. And it is true: He has not. He was one of those human beings that, despite their physical disappearances, are still alive and will stay alive forever because they stopped belonging to themselves so they could become a heritage of humanity. His 28-year prison term made him one of the most powerful planetary icons in the fight for justice, equality, democracy, and a big long etcetera.
From his tiny cell in Robben Island, Mandela made a formidable moral force out of his political activist condition that not only inspired his own people, but millions around the world. Since he became an old man in prison, his image of a kind and credible elderly person was the one the world knew and admired as soon as he got out of there.
But Mandela was no saint; he really was one of the greatest political fighters during the 20th century. As a matter of fact, his struggle against the apartheid started as an armed fight, but his reflection over the subject, that who made him a wise man, convinced him that the racial discrimination South Africa was victim of was absolutely immoral – and at the same time, powerfully armed – and that it could only be defeated by opposing it a greater moral force.
Prison did not make Mandela a bitter man, despite having all the reasons in the world to be drawn into resentment and revenge, as he understood – and made his own people understand as well – that freedom could only come by the weight of moral force; through a pacific imposition of that moral force. And that is Mandela’s contribution to the struggle against the apartheid. That is the reason why he and his people came out triumphant.