markkensett

A sinner who keeps on trying.

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Nelson Mandela has been an icon and a hero for so many over the past 50 years. One mans freedom fighter, another mans terrorist. There is no doubt that in 1964 he was angry,  who would have thought that denying a man his freedom for twenty seven years would aid the liberation of so many.

He was, as we all are imperfect, but he was a giant. Some called him a saint to which he replied;

“I’m not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying” 

I like that, it gives me hope. His name stands for so much, for wisdom, for forgiveness, for freedom. World figures fell over themselves to be photographed with him hoping some of his kudos would rub off on them, for me he transcended the racial divide with his gravitas, any argument suggesting skin colour as an indicator to someone being inferior has surely been blown out of the water.

So as I watched his funeral live from the Eastern Cape, a place we visited for a family celebration four years ago I couldn’t help but reflect on the bitter sweet emotions it invoked. Our friend’s family were among the first black families to move from their homestead to the city after  Apartheid ended, they were the first black faces in their school twenty years ago, much has been achieved since then.

Mandela had lived to a ripe old age, and so the funeral could be a celebration of life, and many of the commentators reflected on the impact he has had, to them personally and to the world as a whole, but one thing I found sad was that here was a world leader, they were saying, the kind we may never see again, when John Simpson reminisced about seeing a President feeding a disabled child, he was already resigning himself to never seeing the like ever again.

My hope is that we can at least try. They say we get the leaders we deserve, there has been much debate recently in the validity of voting, I for one will question more the part I must play, inspired by someone, imperfect but non the less a man after God’s own heart.

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