Kapiti resident John Murray recalls his time observing the impact of Nelson Mandela during the first democratic election in South Africa.
The Rt Rev John Murray writes: ‘I was there in April of 1994, as an observer for the World Council of Churches. I have many memories of the time, but here is a brief comment…
We were warned by the Afrikaner military commander that violence, if not civil war even, might break out after the election.
This was South Africa in April 1994. Without Mandela that might well have happened but because of the aura of Madiba, there was peace.
How I remember those weeks before and after May 10th when I was there as a member of the World Council of Churches’ Observer Team monitoring the election.
Mandela personified for the people, all the people, two things:
First, he was willing to suffer as his people were suffering, and to go on suffering with them and for them, until he and they were set free.
And secondly, he learnt and then he taught forgiveness, how to overcome that deep and mutual hatred of both white and black, and so bring unity and peace. These are the marks of a true political and spiritual leader.
So out of suffering and forgiveness was born a new nation, a non racist,
non sexist, democratic Republic, a rainbow people.
What I remember most was and will always be the strength of Madiba’s smile.
God rest his soul.
His long walk is over. Together with others, he has changed the life of our world in this twenty-first century.
Mandela still lives!