Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Memorial: Obama Speaks and Soweto Cheers

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Previous Related Posts:
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela - "He Belongs to the Ages
Obama in Africa: Capetown to Tanzania


President Obama and every other living President except George H.W. Bush attended the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa. Speaking in the rain to a packed stadium, President Obama had the crowd fired up and cheering, as he often does in our own country. His was by far the most dynamic speech. Most of the tributes could have been edited intensely and no one would have noticed. However, Mandela's grandchildren were wonderfully poetic!

Click Here for Complete Text of President Obama's Eulogy

. . . Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa -- Ubuntu -- a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small -- introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS -- that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

. . . Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.

After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.

Mandiba's Grandchildren - He Would Be Proud!

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