How do you begin to pay tribute to such a man?! An exceptional life devoted to the affirmation of the dignity of man, to save from the impasse his country locked up for forty years in apartheid,... : a man who became a myth. A myth in total coherence between the incarcerated man and the committed man who became free again. The embodiment of an idea: equality is won and not given. A "nugget" as Nicolas Hulot distinguishes him among his universal worshippers.
Be brief, because millions of tributes will resound (reason?) throughout the world. Nelson Mandela was born free; free to run, to swim, to ride on the backs of oxen,... as long as he obeyed his father and respected the customs of his tribe. Then his illusions were shattered when he later discovered in Johannesburg that he could not choose the fundamental and honourable freedoms to realize his possibilities, to earn a living, to start a family, "the freedom not to be hindered in an unjust life".
This reduced freedom was not just about him. So he joined the African National Congress and his hunger for personal freedom became a hunger for freedom for his people.
Madiba prefers reconciliation to vendetta. He learns the history of the Afrikaners, their language, hears their claims. By asserting himself hostile to "white as well as black domination" and by declaring that the Afrikaner is an African as much as a black, he distinguishes himself from the Africanism that was in vogue at the time. His negotiations with Pieter Botha, considered to be the spearhead of the segregationist regime, without the consent and without the knowledge of the ANC, bear witness to this. A humanism coupled with a political pragmatism which the prison microcosm will have exercised during his 27 years of imprisonment.
Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, he was released by Frederik De Klerk in 1990. Both were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
A giant among Great Men, eternally lucid in his gaze filled with love, calm determination: an embodiment of the best of politics, in the noblest sense of the word: "I am ready to die for my people". Let us recall that at one time he was considered a terrorist; no state received him .
His own words:
"It is this desire for freedom for my people to live their lives with dignity and pride that turned a frightened young man into a bold one, that led a law-abiding lawyer to become a criminal, that turned a husband who loved his family into a wanderer, that forced a man who loved life to live as a monk. I have no more virtue or self-sacrifice than anyone else, but I discovered that I could not take advantage of the poor limited freedoms I was allowed, even though I knew that my people were not free. Freedom is indivisible; the chains that one of my fellow countrymen wore, all of them wore, the chains that all of them wore, I wore". (©Long walk to freedom - 1995)
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"None of us, acting alone, can achieve success".