Many will mourn Nelson Mandela’s passing.

Before the inevitable happens — negative critiques about Mr. Mandela, his family, the ANC, the course of South Africa and the like are most assuredly on the way — I’m writing to encourage myself and perhaps,you that we did not deceive ourselves. Mandela’s legacy is real and will remain intact.

First, here are some folks who connected to Mandela whom you might not have thought of.

  • Mitch McConnell.  As a young senator, he voted to overturn the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act.

“In the 1960s, when I was in college, civil rights issues were clear,” explained Senator Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), who voted to pass the Act over Reagan’s veto. “After that, it became complicated with questions of quotas and other matters that split people of good will. When the apartheid issues came along, it made civil rights black and white again. It was not complicated.”


  • Former SONY studio chief Peter Guber on NPR today talked about how his office hung up on Mandela as a prank caller, but he finally arranged a Hollywood fundraiser where he was impressed with Mandela’s decision to go for the businesspeople’s hearts rather than their wallets.

Perhaps his greatest gift wasn’t just giving us a tangible example of how to  be great through his ability to forgive.

Or how to be more gracious in victory than in defeat.

Or his ability to wield power skillfully then to release it gracefully.

His greatest gifts to the word in my estimation were first his determination to live! To laugh and to love. President Mandela was married three times. The third time to Graca Machel appeared to have been the charm. But he was classy enough to attend the funeral of his first wife, Evelyn Mase, despite her harsh criticisms of his work.

I hope his second gift will prove to be the more lasting. His ability to bring people of all stripes together.

No sorrow, only gratitude and another star to chart our courses by.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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