KARACHI: Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first beloved black president and anti-apartheid hero, died at the age of 95 in 2013. He had been suffering frequent lung infections that were the aftermath of tuberculosis contracted in prison during his long fight against oppression. Although out of the limelight in recent years because of the frailties of age, Mandela, or Madiba, the clan name by which he was affectionately known to many South Africans, remained a revered symbol of the fight he led against the nation’s apartheid.
On July 18, 2017, world leaders and organisations remembered his legacy with the hashtag #MandelaDay, posting quotes and videos in memory. Especially in the context of raging contemporary global politics, Mandela is a figure that we should look up to and remember. Today’s world is one desperately in need of Mandela’s values of kindness, empathy and tolerance. He led us on a path of democracy, justice and equity. In the span of his life, he demonstrated that non-violent resistance, when combined with unrelenting activism, is the key to transforming a potential dead-end, which Pakistan faces, into a new beginning. Mandela was a beacon of light and he triumphed through the force of his love for humankind.
But above all, we can honour his legacy by what Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the UN General Assembly on the occasion, “The best tribute we can pay this great man is not words or in ceremonies, but actions that improve our world.”
Mohammad Hameed Qureshi
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2017.