Tribute to president Nelson Mandela, by Rasheeda Adam, counsellor and deputy head of mission, 12 december 2013
South African Studies Department, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan
This week we reflect on the loss of our beloved former President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whom we sadly lost on 5 December. The Gods gave us a fantastic gift in the person of Mr Nelson Mandela who will forever remain a symbol representing forgiveness, generosity and freedom.
Since we have learnt about the passing of the former President, South Africans and millions of people around the world are mourning the loss of South Africa's first democratically elected President. We are humbled by this international expression of grief for Mr Mandela, also from the people of Poland.
We appreciated the efforts of the Polish people who supported us and partnered Mr Mandela in the long journey to a free and democratic South Africa. The grief and sympathy expressed by the Polish people was illustrated by the fact that Prime Minister Tusk and former President Wałęsa took time out in their busy schedules to personally visit the South African Embassy to sign the Condolence Book. The fact that you share our grief lightens our hearts and makes it easier for us to cope with our sadness during this time when our whole country is in mourning.
As an international icon and a symbol of hope for the oppressed and marginalised people across the globe, President Mandela dedicated his life in service of humanity and contributed immensely to the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. This great leader spent almost three decades imprisoned in South Africa to secure freedom for all South Africans, including those who jailed him.
President Mandela was a great Statesman and an exceptional human being who struggled against apartheid and contributed to the establishment of a democratic South Africa. This selfless individual made an impact on millions of individuals throughout the world. Mr Mandela cannot be replaced in person but his legacy of selfless and principled dedication to equality and justice lives on, not only in South Africa, but also in other countries.
On 18 July every year millions of people from around the world celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday by dedicating their time in community service. These actions are inspired by Mandela's life, his ideals and work and the only fitting way to pay tribute to this great man is by looking back at his public and political life and emulating his selflessness and kindness.
I hope that next year we as a team (South African Studies Department at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, South African Embassy in Warsaw and the South African Consulate in Poznan under the astute leadership of His Excellency Mr Czesław Fiedler) can work together on a special project to serve the underprivileged in memory of Nelson Mandela. We could consider identifying a project in Poznan in this regard, maybe something related to children as Mr Mandela always had a special soft place in his heart for children.
Madiba will be remembered worldwide for his values and dedication to the service of humanity in the fields of conflict resolution, reconciliation, the promotion and protection of the rights of children, gender equality and the upliftment of the poor.
Nelson Mandela once said 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."
Nelson Mandela's life was one of courage to overcome injustice, whatever the cost. Staying true to his ideals is the best way to celebrate his courageous life, including his unwavering commitment to justice, equality and a non-racial South Africa.
Through his extraordinary actions and personality, he remains a moral compass that all of us will forever look up to.
As South Africa and the world mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela,
We, as mere mortals, can remember our beloved Madiba by staying true to his ideals and spirit through generosity and kindness towards our fellow human beings.