Friday, August 19, 2022


Nelson Mandela: A name that belongs to the ages

No mortal ever to walk the earth had the opportunity to choose the color of one’s skin and the nobility of birth and therefore can never merit anything that one never had the power to choose, writes Jaykhosh Chidambaran

By Jaykhosh Chidambaran

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

On a rainy morning of 1964, prisoner number 46664 walked into his 6 square feet prison cell in the notorious Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town with bitter acrimony in his heart and vengeful anger amidst the roars of brutal, burly white warders reverberating in his ears “This is an Island. Here you will die”.  He disappeared from the world and was left to freeze in time.

When bludgeoned by fate, facing his self against a gruesome fight to preserve his sanity in the cold and unsympathetic loneliness of solitary confinement, he pushed the frontiers of human nature and endurance into sublime levels of forgiveness. The bitterness and rancor were replaced with love and reconciliation for the barbaric apartheid regime that had trampled under their feet, the fundamental laws governing sanctity of birth and inviolability of race. There were no tears in him to shed when he saw the sacredness of life, remorselessly and mercilessly profaned. A prisoner left to rot in a dark and dingy prison cell in his beloved rainbow nation, his lost tears found a new expression…an inimitable smile!

No mortal ever to walk the earth had the opportunity to choose the color of one’s skin and the nobility of birth and therefore can never merit anything that one never had the power to choose. Human dignity cannot be benchmarked on the color of a pigment. Race is inviolable and racism is taught. If racism is taught, then love and universal brotherhood can be taught too. Commonalities that bind human race are greater than the differences propagated by racism. This modern-day messiah revealed to the world that the lasting solution to violence, cynicism and injustice is to abandon hatred and bitterness from the mind-scape of men. Evil may have its hour, but good will eventually have its day. He was a living witness of his ideals for millions of petty minds imprisoned in the impossibility of forgiving their enemies. The immortal words of Confucius remind us, “before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves”. He imbibed the timeless verses of his inspirational book, ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius, the unfailing companion while he served the grueling jail term, that read, “the best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury”.  As he walked through the gates of freedom in 1990, he knew that if he were not to leave behind hatred and revenge, he will never leave the real prison…

His ideals swept across the clandestine African National Congress (ANC) movement, fighting for freedom, from the undergrounds in Lusaka to the rebel camps in Angola to the brotherhood in London. He proved the world that man can still be the “captain of his soul and master of his fate”. He eschewed realpolitik motives during his presidency and emerged as an intrepid crusader for human rights, social justice, equality and declared solidarity and fraternity with oppressed humans in different garbs and diverse tongues across the world. He believed in shared rewards, bridging chasms that divide people and embarked on a mission to heal wounds of the past. As a whiff of fresh invigorating air, he became an apostle of love and compassion by virtue of his lived life that helped emancipate millions from the darkest dungeons of their souls enchained with time-hardened links of historical, socio-cultural and civilizational prejudices and hatred. He transformed the flagrant injustice, harrowing solitude and intense anguish within prison walls into an unconditional love for humanity. While the state terror unleashed the monstrous dogs of apartheid, Mandela responded by showing the world how to fight injustice. He demonstrated that man can become human in the midst of unjust suffering and pain. His life was a profound statement on the power of all conquering love, that had the stamp of a modern-day Sermon on the Mount reiterating the timeless principle that for enduring peace on Earth, man has to grow beyond himself. The cauldron of hope he sculpted in time begs to get inflamed in the heart of man. Paradise is lost and regained in the mind of man. It is built by demolishing walls and constructing bridges.  

In the immensity of time and vastness of space, when the irrevocable law governing human existence in a tiny speck of dust called Earth is suffering, death and eternal oblivion, there is a name carried by a cosmic wind to the outer reaches of the universe proclaiming its immortality.

A name that belongs to the ages… Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela! 

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of TAS and TAS does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.