Despite his enormous impact, Mandela was a self-deprecating man who would have rejected attempts to portray him as martyr or saint. Modest to a fault, he often disarmed opponents and amused friends with his puckish sense of humor. While in prison, he played soccer with other inmates and his entire life he remained a proud and passionate soccer fan. He helped South Africa obtain the 2010 World Cup and was photographed beaming at the Cup finale.
He knew personal tragedy beyond but during imprisonment — his mother and eldest son both died while he was in prison and he was not permitted to attend their funerals. His well-known second wife, married to him during his imprisonment, was involved in a sordid public scandal after their divorce. In 2005, his only surviving son died of AIDS, a disease that ravaged South Africa, and one which Mandela had assumed a public role in fighting.
If one person could be called the conscience of the world, it would be Nelson Mandela. Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer and Nobel laureate for literature, once said of her fellow countryman, “He is at the epicenter of our time, ours in South Africa, and yours, wherever you are.”
The best way for us to truly honor his life, his suffering, and his memory is to uphold the values he embodied and fight the injustices he forced the world to confront. His inspiration is universal, his legacy timeless.
— Chicago Tribune
THE ISSUE The death of Nelson Mandela THEIR VIEW The best way for us to truly honor his life is to uphold the values he embodied and fight the injustices he forced the world to confront.