Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In honour of Mandela's 94th Birthday

Today in South Africa, everyone (and I really mean practically everyone) is celebrating Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday.  Everyone is celebrating the man, but more than that, they are celebrating what he stands for and what he represents.

Rather than explaining what exactly this is in my words, I would like to use some of his.  I could write a story about how this quote is relevant to me, or about the myriad of impressions I was receiving when I found this quote a week ago on the wall of the Nelson Mandela House Museum at 8115 Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto.

I think this quote needs no stories or any more of an introduction than the one I have given.  I would not want to shape the form it takes in your brain or in the way it affects your spirit.  All I can hope is that it settles in comfortably and enlightens and inspires you as much as it did me.

In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education...but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every human soul.

Nelson Mandela in a letter to Winnie Madikizela Mandela, 1977.

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