A long walk to freedom: The legacy of Nelson Mandela

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. – Long Walk to Freedom

RIP Nelson Rohlilahla Mandela  18/07/1918-5/12/1013

My Tribute To Madiba 

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” –  

Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished. – Nelson Mandela

A great man is gone, a legend is born. Africa has lost a freedom fighter & gained a valuable role model leaving us with an invaluable legacy. 

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination” Nelson Mandela

Besides the mourning, the tributes & the emotions the iconic man’s loss has aroused, I believe that Mandela is one of those immortal beings who transcend death & time through their heritage. 

« I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. » Nelson Mandela on peace 

His life is a testimony impacting  the lives of the present generation & will  also touch the future ones. I reminisce Mandela & Deklerk walking side by side that day of February 1990. 

I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man. – Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela on hope

It was winter in Paris & tears started rolling down on my cheeks. I was strangled with emotions & mixed feelings. I was torn between hate for apartheid, relief & sadness for Mandela. He was free but he was old. But the future showed us that age is not a fatal issue when you are destined for greatness.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.  I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended. – Long Walk to Freedom- Nelson Mandela on empowerment

I was aware of witnessing a unique moment of history. The oppressor & the oppressed together as one got a Nobel Prize for peace, another moment in history I am not ready to forget. 

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies” Nelson Mandela

Just few years later, in 1996, as a young executive in telecommunications, based in Abidjan, I was given the opportunity to do an internship at MTN offices in South Africa. I was in my 20’s & visiting the country of Mandela had been on my bucket list from the day apartheid regime was dismantled. 

I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realized so that all of her children may play in the sun. –Nelson Mandela  

However, in those days, even though black, white, Indians, colored etc. were supposed to live together as one, I could feel the stigmas of almost 50 years of racial discrimination within the South African Society. Clearly, the black population was still scarred &desperately was trying to integrate fully to the ideal of rainbow nation of Madiba. 

The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us. Nelson Mandela on peace

On a Friday evening, at MTN offices, we had a get together with the staff & each community was sticking to its people. As a cosmopolitan person & an outsider to that society, I was going from one group to the other, a bit uncomfortable but trying to remind to myself that it was a new country, with new codes & that they needed time to understand each other’s. 

“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 on freedom

Mandela dreamt of a united South Africa where all the citizens, regardless of their race or skin color would work as one. His aim was to build a discrimination free country where forgiveness, peace, tolerance & understanding would prevail. 

‘When I walked out of prison,that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela on love

He showed a sense of integrity& respect towards what was South Africa: a multi racial nation. As a man he publicly admitted his weaknesses when him & Winnie agreed to divorce instead of just pretending it was ok like so many couples do. As a leader he left his Presidential office without being forced, teaching a great lesson of humility & democracy to many African head of States clinging on to power like their life depended on their positions. 

 am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying must step down while there are one or two people who admire me. The time is always right to do right. Nelson Mandela on humility

Madiba awakened hope in the heart of the hopeless, he showed the world that legendary leaders can emerge in the midst of chaos, shaping a new perspective for a youth in despair. 

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” Nelson Mandela on Afroptimism

From my first trip in South Africa, I came back with a book that would impact my perspective on life forever: “A long walk to freedom”. Mandela’s life is a story of endurance, courage, faith, persistence & generosity. 

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Mandela on endurance

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” Mandela on persistence

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Long Walk to Freedom. Mandela on courage

As an actor of our history, his memoirs taught me one simple thus beautiful lesson: As long as you have a long healthy life, a strong will & good heart, there is space & time for your dreams.

“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.” Nelson Mandela on Respect & leadership

“It always seems impossible until it’s done. « 

Mandela on Faith

By holding on to his values & to his dreams, Mandela was given the blessing to become the first black president of South Africa at 76 years old. So don’t give up! As you long as you have faith, courage & persistence, your dreams may come true. 

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Nelson Mandela on generosity 


The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! Nelson Mandela

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