Madiba, you will live on in our hearts!

As the elderly gentleman walked onto the stage, slowly, unassuming, and assisted by a person on either side, the over 20,000 people present in the hall rose to their feet. The resounding applause continued for around 10 minutes… not wanting to fall short of the stature of the honoured guest — Mr. Nelson Mandela. The occasion was the closing ceremony of the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, in 2004. It was also his 86th birthday.Uday Sahai with his sketch of Nelson Mandela

The applause was much longer than the emphatic speech he made. Said Mr Mandela, ‘The best birthday present I could receive is a renewed commitment by leaders from all sectors of society to take urgent action against HIV and AIDS.’

I was fortunate to be there at this momentous occasion — to feel the impact of his presence, to see the respect he commanded, to listen to him and to be inspired.

How can one person influence so many?  I found my answer in the words of Mr. Mandela himself, “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.” He made a difference not only to the lives of his generation but for generations to come. His struggle against apartheid, and the victory achieved after much personal endurance went beyond the fight against racial discrimination. It symbolized the struggle against oppression, against personal freedom and against the violation of rights.

He also taught us the right approach to fight discrimination.  He wrote after his release from prison, “I knew that people expected me to harbour anger towards whites, but I had none. In prison my anger towards whites decreased but my hatred for the system grew.”

Words are never enough to describe the loss of a person such as Mr. Mandela.

He is revered across generations. When school children in India are asked to do a project or a presentation on a famous personality, they choose Nelson Mandela as much as Mahatma Gandhi.  I have the pleasure of sharing a fantastic sketch by Uday Sahai, a 10-year-old school boy in New Delhi. The sketch captures just how much Mr Mandela belongs to all nations, not just to South Africa. When I shared this sketch with my former director, who is from South Africa, she was touched and said, “It is a most beautiful image of our beloved Madiba.”

May God bless your soul, Madiba. You will live on in our hearts!

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10 Responses to Madiba, you will live on in our hearts!

  1. rachna says:

    Beautiful sir,

    “I knew that people expected me to harbour anger towards whites, but I had none. In prison my anger towards whites decreased but my hatred for the system grew.”

    If one has to bring about the change, one must think of changing the system!!!!

    • Syed Mohammad Afsar says:

      Dear Rachna,
      Thank you very much for your comment, and reiterating this beautiful message given by Mr. Mandela
      warm regards

    • JOLLY DAWAR says:

      Dear Afsar,

      I had also written few lines on Nelson Mandela when he was alive:

      Peace in the World is what he desires
      Love towards mankind is what he admires
      Freedom is our Right, spreads the world like fires
      Happiness everywhere – no bloodsheds, no funeral pyres !!

      Nelson Mandela IS the Right man
      From pillar to post for freedom he ran
      No racial discrimination among Blacks or Whites
      God made us all and gave us equal rights
      Why then among ourselves we should discriminate and fight
      Rise and show the path of equality to all young and bright !!!

  2. Nelson Mandela showed that he understood the meaning of loving God supremely and loving one’s neighbour as one’s self. When all is said and do e harmonic relationships are based on truth , knowledge, understanding, faith, courage, self- confidence, and respect. Mandela demonstrated these virtues. May he rest in peace and may we strive to emulate the legacy that he has left us.

    • Syed Mohammad Afsar says:

      Dear Mineva,
      Thank you very much for your comment and throwing light on these additional virtues that Mr. Mandela demonstrated.
      with kind regards

  3. Maliha says:

    “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”-Nelson Mandela
    Madiba forever. The sacrifice made by one of the greatest men that ever lived will never be forgotten.

  4. Masuma Jafri says:

    Thanks Afsar bhai for sharing this beautiful piece you wrote and for the picture also. I started reading more about Nelson Mandela since he passed away last week. I have been moved beyond words by his life. So many great examples to follow all along his path. What an honor that you got to meet him. May Allah SWT reward him greatly inshAllah.

  5. Mohd Nayyar Afaque says:

    GREAT WORDS -“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.” It says it all.

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