Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) - Statesman, Revolutionary, Political Prisoner, Prophet, Reconciler: Rest in Peace, Madiba!

Madiba, Nelson Mandela
Madiba, Nelson Mandela, passed away yesterday at the age of 95. He is a great hero of social justice. As a lawyer and the leader of the African National Congress, he fought against the racist Apartheid system in South Africa from 1948 -1994. He spent 27 years as a political prisoner, much of it in solitary. When he became the president of South Africa, he offered reconciliation with the white minority, rather than retribution. As Muhammed Ali stated yesterday, "he taught forgiveness on a grand scale."

No doubt many will try to domesticate his memory, as they have with Martin Luther King Jr. But though Madiba left hate and bitterness behind, he was a firm supported of social justice. He did not shrink back from speaking the truth to power.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, representatives of the world's dominant powers, condemned his as a terrorist. They had stake in maintaining the unjust status quo. It was only in 2008 that George W. Bush signed a bill removing his name from the terrorist list.
Nelson Mandela with Fidel Castro
But for many people of the world- for people of African descent, for workers, for the poor, for the oppressed, and for proponents of social justice, he is a liberator. For me he is a hero and a prophet of social justice. This is one of my favorite quotes from Nelson Mandela:

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

Madiba did not let the oppressor of the hook, or any of us, for that matter. We are called to reconciliation, but a reconciliation based on making things right. In this sense, Nelson Mandela is a true prophet, in the Biblical sense; he shines a light on injustice, and calls us to repentance, to change the way we do things and treat each other.

Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest people we have been honored to have on this planet. He is a Statesman, Revolutionary, Political Prisoner, Prophet, Reconciler. Charlie Rose stated on his program last night "It seems to me that if there was not a word for 'dignity,' Nelson Mandela would define it."

We love you, Madiba, may you rest in peace in the arms of God, and continue your work for peace and justice in heaven for us who remain on pilgrimage. May we all be inspired by your example, and shrink not back from the work of peace and justice and reconciliation here in Earth.

Nelson Mandela with Bishop Desmond Tutu
I read some wonderful prayers for Nelson Mandela yesterday; here are just a few of them...

“Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you/Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people/We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper."

- Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Saints of God, come to his aid!
Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.
May Christ, Who called you, take you to Himself;
may angels lead you to Abraham's side.
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.
Give him eternal rest, O Lord,
and may Your light shine upon him forever.
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.
Let us pray: We commend our brother Madiba to you, Lord.
Now that he has passed from this life,
may he live on in Your presence.
In Your mercy and love, forgive whatever sins he
may have committed through human weakness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Let All in agreement say,

- Fr. Bruce Christian

Thank you, Nelson Mandela, for all the gifts you gave, the light you shone into the world, and the magnificence of your example.
Dear God,
Please hold Mandela
in Your eternal arms
and give him eternal peace.
Surround him with love
and deliver him to bliss.
And so it is.

- Marianne Williamson
Nelson Mandela with Whitney Houston

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