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Mandela: Icon of universal peace

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Some individuals become legends in their lifetime. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Einstein and Mandela were such greats who became legends much before they departed.

Twentieth century witnessed two World Wars, great destruction, remarkable scientific advancement and also astoundingly great human beings. Mandela was one of them who taught the embittered and vindictive world that love and understanding could change the hearts.

Despite his incarceration at Roben Island for 27 years, the man came out with no rancour and malice towards anyone. The racist South Africa realised that this man was simply different and indomitable.

"Bitterness leads to greater bitterness". Mandela read Gandhi's letter to his Scottish friend C F Andrews when he was imprisoned at the island and these words struck him like an idea from heaven. Mandela later told the BBC interviewer Emerald Hawks that Mahatma's words made him see goodness in everything and every being.

The seemingly impossible Christian ideal of offering the other cheek wasn't an impractical idea to Mandela whose entire life is a moving example of how those lofty, scriptural ideals can be implemented with great success.

South African whites called the blacks 'sub-humans'. Yet the 'black' Mandela didn't harbour any ill-will. He didn't persecute any white after becoming the President of South Africa.

If anyone truly followed the dictum, "let bygone be bygone," it was Nelson Mandela. True to his name, he turned a Nelson's eye to the past transgressions of the whites and exhorted all to surge ahead with no trace of enmity.

Deeply respected by all across the globe, Madiba was an icon of universal ideals of love, peace, brotherhood and bonhomie. Legends like him never die. Their ideals are forever alive. Good bye, Mandela.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2013 on page no. 2

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