I had only recently left high school when Nelson Mandela was released from prison to reclaim the life his government had stolen from him in his fight for equality against apartheid. I was still “young”. I have lived my whole life believing in his cause.
When he was finally released and won the presidency of South Africa during the very first fully representative, multiracial election since the Afrikaner Nationalists came into power, I felt my heart fill with hope for change. A man born of royalty, fighting for equality with such a commitment he rotted in prison for 27 years, all but forgotten. His story is quite remarkable.
I remember the news of his release and greeted it with tears of joy. Today, I greet the news of his death with tears of grief.
He has been an icon of peace, hope, perseverance and love in my life. I will miss his presence on this planet. I believe his influence will live on and for that I am grateful.
Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.