Like many of us, I was saddened to hear the news of Nelson Mandela's passing. He was a man who lived life knowing that the only way to heal and move forwards is to live a life of forgiveness. That was his biggest strength and should never be forgotten.
Madiba has been an idol of mine for years. I’m not the only one, I know, but in a world that can be tainted by cynicism and apathy, here was a man that lived his life to make a difference and to show that harmony can be made between individuals, no matter how seemingly different. He knew that beyond our perceived differences, we all really value the same things in life and equality is the first step in gaining them.
He was an incredibly compassionate man, with a highly infectious personality and a yearning to always see the positives in the world. But make no mistake, underneath his joyous character was a will of iron and a steely determination to unite a torn nation that had been wounded by racial segregation.
The fact he did so by preaching reconciliation and forgiveness is the measure of a man, and the reason why he touched billions of hearts and minds around the globe.
I had the unbelievable good fortune of meeting him in South Africa when I was a teenager. I remember being slightly nervous meeting such an impressive person, but he had this wonderful ability to put you at ease and soothe any nerves. His charm has been widely recognised and he certainly didn’t disappoint. He had a real humility when meeting us all and seemed to be naturally curious and amused by the charm of life.
He was a leader in the best possible sense. He used the power that he had for good, to heal and change things for the better. I will never forget my meeting with him, but my abiding memory of him won’t be that day, but what he achieved in his life and what he stood for. I can only dream of having a fraction of the positive impact he has had on this planet, but I’m going to give it one hell of a try and we can all play a part in making this world a better place to live in.
Nelson Mandela has had an extraordinary impact, and I hope that the world he has left continues to grow and flourish. I already see that there are fears that racial tensions will re-surface in South Africa following his death, but I believe the impact he had in life is so strong that the world will feel it forever.
Because of Madiba, social peace and equality in South Africa became more than just a dream. His ideal of the Rainbow Nation will forever be a fitting legacy to a quite simply remarkable man.
R.I.P Madiba - the man who brought together a nation and inspired a world.