Martin Luther King. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Huey P. Newton. Fred Hampton. Let’s face it; many of our heroes have been killed, killed long before many of us existed on this planet. They seem to exist in a surreal, historical context that is forever intangible to many of us. Nelson Mandela is different. If you are reading this — on the very day that this is published that is – then it is clear that you lived to witness this titan of a man in action.
Nelson Mandela was freed from Prison in 1990. I was a child then who wasn’t able to grasp the totality of the situation at hand, but Free Nelson Mandela and Free South Africa sounded cool. This was also the era of the Spike Lee movies, Afrocentric color wearing, black medallions, Native Tongue movement in hip hop culture. As an adult, I completely understand the gravity of his Freedom Movement. I know for a fact that he has rejected numerous conditional freedom bribes while imprisoned in a cell that was absurdly small: a six foot cube of space (fun fact: Mandela was 6 feet tall).
Mandela was a man of Platinum Will, Platinum Determination. The prison he stayed in, Robben Island is now a World Heritage site, and if you were to visit it you would have no choice but to wonder how Prisoner no. 46664 maintained his sanity. On top of this, Mandela had the self-discipline to NOT punish and obliterate his captors after release of prison or presidential power. For this reason… this level of restraint… He is deemed a Saint among men, even though he rejected that notion.
He is a man who achieved numerous awards, over 250 in fact, from the Nobel Peace Prize, to the International Gandhi Peace Prize, to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Please, if you do not know, research this man. Know this man. He was one of the last Great Ones, and now he’s finally free.