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Mandela: World Reacts to Death of ‘Closest Thing We Have to Proof of God’

Obamafamilywith mandelaLike Gandhi, Napoleon, Churchill, Lincoln and King, only a handful of transcendent leaders emerge per century. After Martin Luther King Jr. met his demise on a Memphis balcony in 1968, there probably has been no other figure across the globe who has been as iconic, as visionary, as revered as Nelson Mandela.

He just may be the most exceptional individual any of us will ever witness in our lifetimes.

For those who came of age in the last 30 years, it may be hard to comprehend how much of a reviled stain on the human soul South African apartheid represented throughout much of the 20th century. It was difficult to comprehend how the world could sit by and watch its daily affront to human dignity, well into the 1980s. And it was impossible to imagine that it could end in any way other than epic bloodshed.

That is, until Mandela stepped out of that jail in 1990 and astonished the world by navigating his country through a peaceful transfer of power from the apartheid regime to the Black majority. It will stand as perhaps the defining human rights act of the 20th century, in many ways maybe even more remarkable than the Civil Rights Movement actualized by King. While King helped vanquish Jim Crow and brought a measure of equality, at least in the eyes of the law, to the lives of African-Americans, Mandela all at once toppled a murderous, evil regime without firing a bullet and almost overnight changed the life trajectory of 40 million black South Africans.

Madiba’s exclusive place in the human orbit was canonized by leaders around the world yesterday, as the planet seemingly stopped to recognize the passing of an idealized version of us, a leader for the ages.

Celebrities, luminaries and heads of state from across the global family tripped over each other in reaching for the most poetic and soaring language they could find to describe Mandela and his impact on all of our lives.

It is a testament to how complete was his adoration that virtually every head of state felt moved to issue a statement, to craft words memorializing Mandela. Is there any other person among us whose passing would garner such an ovation?

President Obama: “A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with. He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages… His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron:A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “All of Canada mourns with the family of Nelson Mandela and the citizens of South Africa. The world has lost one of its great moral leaders.”
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “President Mandela’s life is the closest thing we have to proof of God.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “Nelson Mandela was a giant for justice and a down-to-earth human inspiration. Many around the world were greatly influenced by his selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom. He touched our lives in deeply personal ways. At the same time, no one did more in our time to advance the values and aspirations of the United Nations. Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us – if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: “He would delight in making sure that the person on the door or serving the tea would feel at home with him and be greeted by him with the same kindness and respect he would show a leader. So the warmth of his personality was equal to the magnitude of his contribution to the world. He was a great man, a great leader and the world’s most powerful symbol of reconciliation, hope and progress.”
French President Francois Hollande: “Nelson Mandela made history, that of South Africa, that of the entire world.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: Mandela was “the biggest personality of the 20th century. Mandela conducted with passion and intelligence one of the most important processes of human emancipation in contemporary history – the end of apartheid in South Africa.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Mandela was “one of the most honorable figures of our time … a man of vision, a freedom fighter who rejected violence.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia’s delegate to Congress: “I met a man who had no visible and outward sense of his own greatness. It’s an example that we’ve almost never seen in the world, of self-effacing leadership that asks nothing from the people. It’s a model for leadership that is still not much imitated.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):“In a way, Mandela was both the George Washington and Abraham Lincoln of his country. We’re so fortunate to have lived in his time.”

Secretary of State John Kerry: “Madiba’s ‘long walk to freedom’ gave new meaning to courage, character, forgiveness, and human dignity. Now that his long walk has ended, the example he set for all humanity lives on.”

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One thought on “Mandela: World Reacts to Death of ‘Closest Thing We Have to Proof of God’

  1. Constance Mologadi Malatji says:

    U were our hero who took us 4rm dark 2 light . We will always remember u r Ubuntu. We a now rainbow nation cause of u tata . May ur soul rest in peace.

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