Nelson Mandela, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Festival Karsh’s photostream

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”
– Nelson Mandela

When speaking about the passing of Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama remarked, “He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.” How fitting to echo sentiments that had been said about Abraham Lincoln as both Mandela and Lincoln had the courage to change the world and both paid a terrible price in the name of freedom and democracy.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison because he refused to give up the fight for equality, yet he walked out of that terrible place with no malice towards his captors. He led his country to its first truly democratic election and a peaceful end to white rule. As South Africa’s first black president, he moved the country from apartheid to reconciliation. In doing so, he gained the kind of universal recognition, respect and admiration that few on this planet can ever claim.

On Tuesday, there will be an official memorial service where world leaders — including President Obama and former Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter — will gather to honor the man’s life work. They will be joined in spirit by their fellow human beings around the world who will mourn the loss of this remarkable man who inspired generations — and, no doubt, generations to come.

R.I.P. Nelson Mandela. You have done your duty to your people, to your country and to the world.


Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.’s photostream