The Greatest Hero of my lifetime

Thirty years ago I read Nelson Mandela’s court statement. It was a political education and an inspiration in the form of a booklet from the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement – something I was proud to be a part of. Of course it is now available online (see here for the full text).

The 70th Birthday Party organised by the ANC and the Anti-Apartheid Movement to bring world attention to his continued incarceration was a stroke of genius. The campaign mug is still in regular use:


Watching his release from prison as I sat in my college room brought me to tears – embarrassing when there was a knock on the door from a friend. The Specials song – a favourite at college bops was changed from “Free Nelson Mandela” to “Freed Nelson Mandela”.

But Mandela’s great achievements really were ahead of him at that point. He used his immense personality not to inspire revenge against his oppressors but to bring people together in reconciliation, united against racism to build a new society. “I am not a saint” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

Great tributes today from all sorts of people, but I particularly enjoyed Tony Blair and Tom Butler this morning – probably my favourite Thought for the Day!



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