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Nelson Mandela

December 9, 2013

Filed under: event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:08

Nelson Mandela is viewed as one of the most respected individuals in modern time. After leading a campaign against the South African apartheid government and spending 27 years in prison, he chose to unite rather than seek revenge. He is credited with guiding the country to democracy and was elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

In my years of visiting South Africa, my understanding and appreciation for what Mandela had done for the country has grown considerably. He meant so very much to so very many because of what he stood for and had given to the country. President Obama said last week after his passing, “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make.”

In 2002, Mandela gave a keynote speech when accepting an honorary doctorate from Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, South Africa. I’m sure it was an extraordinary occasion, and one that I wish I could have attended. Two years later, I received an invitation to accept an honorary doctorate from the same institution, much to my surprise. It came with the request to give the keynote at the graduation ceremony—an experience I will forever treasure, especially given Mandela’s previous involvement.

The 2004 graduation ceremony coincided with the 10th anniversary of democracy in South Africa. This made the event even more special. I will forever view Nelson Mandela and South Africa in a very special way. As an extraordinary person and example, his legacy will continue to serve as inspiration to South Africans and others around the world for decades to come.