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The man who gave hope and dignity
by Thanos Kalamidas
2013-12-06 11:51:44
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Hours after reading that Nelson Mandela, Madiba is dead; I find it dificult to write or think anything. Is just his eyes looking at me that I see and feel. I can just repeat an article I worte about him three years ago and really really wish that now, he's resting in peace!

mandela01_400I am one of those very privileges and honoured to have seen Nelson Mandela, have spoken to him and have shaken a hand with one of the greatest men of our life time. And while I’m writing that I can hear you mentioning names like Einstein, Churchill, Dr. King or Gandhi and I do agree all of them and many many more contributed in many ways for humanity’s evolution in every level of life but there is one man who restored human dignity and gave so much hope and faith to humanity and that is Nelson Mandela. I suppose Mahatma Gandhi has done the same a few decades before but …I never met him.

It was just weeks before Nelson Mandela becomes the first president of South Africa, a country that was coming out of the darkest moments in human history with a lot of open wounds and I was standing next to a Dutch man. Both dressed in dark suits and ties with a few more men and women all dressed up we were waiting for Mandela to greet us on his way for the African National Congress offices all of us quiet thinking what to say and worrying for what was going to follow since we were going to follow him for a day during his campaign.

Here I have to admit that it was not much of campaign the way we knew political campaigns. Here was a living legend, a man who had suffered not only for a race, a nation but for the whole humanity walking through crowds of people who wanted just to see him. It was an unbelievable experience and very difficult to describe. I don’t know what was happening in USA with Dr. King and I have thought about it hundreds of times; you see Nelson Mandela was not the only man who suffered under the racist regime and the apartheid still I’m not sure if anybody else would ever get the same reaction from the people. Perhaps it is his sad eyes, perhaps it is the dignity he carries himself, perhaps it is the aura that surrounds him but only his appearance was enough to make thousands feel a thrill.

And then came my turn and he said smiling, with this characteristic like a little boy smile “kalimera” good morning in Greek – his assistant who was walking next to him had already informed hi that I am Greek – and he told me that he had read ancient Greeks. I can’t describe the feelings; I can’t even recall my thoughts, how can you describe your thoughts when you meet history. A few months ago watching him walking out of the prison, watching him marching free out of the prison made me cry like a kid, I was not able to keep my tears.

It is one thing to say that you anti-racist and totally different to actually see and witness what racism can do especially when you know that your race is responsible. The months I live in South Africa waiting for the apartheid to end I lost my faith to humanity. The things I actually saw still make me feel embarrassed, angry, and sad; a trauma that I haven’t still recovered and I don’t think I will ever be able to wipe from my memories. And here was one man who didn’t only give hope and dignity to the black people of his nation but he also gave me back my faith, my dignity and hope.

And it was not only me and it was him again to remind me that the white people were not the enemy, the evil but these few. In his last word closing his first free speech Nelson Mandela said: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” And till this day I feel I can write books only with this very few sentences.

I had the chance to meet nelson Mandela later again – I have been so lucky – and even mentioning his name I can see his sad eyes and hear his voice. For me it was a tremendous experience I just hope his words are for you a hope that there is future with dignity and where we can “persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”

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Leah Sellers2013-12-07 02:40:42
Brother Thanos, sir, I truly Love your Nobility, and your Voice of the Sacred Soul !
Thank you for your Sharing.

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