My Favorite Nelson Mandela Story

December 8, 2013

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Sunday is a day of prayer and remembrance in South Africa.

We are remembering the incredible life of Nelson Mandela and praying that his values and ideals will be carried through by current South Africans.

The television channels have preempted all programs since his death and have been showing tributes around the clock.

In the next week we will see a service in every major city, including many of the World Cup Stadiums, followed by his final burial in his hometown village.

The memories of Mandela are plenty:

Dawning one of the most prolific symbols of the old regime, the Springbock rugby jersey, in the Rugby World Cup which South Africa won. This was portrayed in the movie Invictus.

Including members of the apartheid government in his cabinet.

Inviting his jailer to be an honored guest at the inauguration.

Having lunch as President with the lawyer who tried him as a terrorist and sent him to prison.

All of these are incredible stories.

But, perhaps my favorite story I have heard over the last few days was told by Bishop Desmond Tutu, whom I’ve had the honor of meeting.

Tutu spoke of “one occasion during the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of our commissioners was accused of being implicated in a case before a commission. Madiba appointed a judicial inquiry to look into the claims and when its report was complete, I had a telephone call from his secretary asking for contact details for the commissioner. I told her that I was upset with the President: as chairperson of the commission, I should know the findings of the inquiry first. Within minutes Madiba personally called back to apologise and acknowledge that he was wrong. People who are insecure and uncertain of themselves find it hard to apologise; Madiba showed his greatness by his willingness to do so quickly and fulsomely.” (taken from an article on AllAfrica.com by Tutu)

What world leaders apologize today?
How often do we see a public figure say “I’m sorry”?

This small glimpse to me illustrates the humility and grace of Mandela.

We would do well to have more leaders utter those simple words, “I was wrong.”

As world remembers Nelson Mandela, we would do well to emulate his grace, forgiveness, and humility.

Do you have a favorite Mandela moment? If so, please share it!

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God