Last night at around 9:50pm, I received a breaking news update on my phone from BBC News telling me that Nelson Mandela had died aged 95. While I immediately felt shock and sadness, I wasn’t exactly sure why.

I always knew he was the first black president of South Africa following many years imprisonment for his people. But it was not until he died last night that I became fully aware of just how remarkable he was.

After reading the initial BBC story, I quickly googled Nelson Mandela and spent a good half hour just reading about his life and everything that he achieved.

I was amazed.

He spent 27 years in prison fighting against apartheid and minority rule in South Africa. His election as President following his release from prison in 1990 paved the way for the future, not just of South Africa, but the world over.

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He was the epitome of all that is good and right with humanity and a true leader. He taught the world  that anything is possible and that reconciliation, not resentment, is key.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

South African President Jacob Zuma said: “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”

It is strange how people work; we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.

I do not think there is anyone in the world who doesn’t know the name Nelson Mandela but I bet they are many who don’t know who he was and what he achieved.

I feel slightly ashamed that it took his passing for me to appreciate fully what he did for the world but I suppose it’s better late than never.

Even though he is gone, it is unlikely anyone will be forgetting him anytime soon. His legacy will live on and continue to inspire millions around the globe.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013

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