Live Madiba legacy: Obama

By Drum Digital
10 December 2013

US president Barack Obama issued a challenge to world leaders and ordinary people to live up to the values championed by Madiba.

US president Barack Obama issued a challenge to world leaders and ordinary people to live up to the values championed by former president Nelson Mandela.

"We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace," Obama said in his tribute at a memorial service for Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday.

"There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality," Obama said.

"Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love."

Obama praised Mandela's humanity as well as his great achievements.

"It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection -- because he could be so full of good humour, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried -- that we loved him so," Obama said.

"He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood -- a son and husband, a father and a friend. Too many leaders who claim solidarity with Mandela's vision do not tolerate dissent from their own people."

The US president praised Mandela's work on HIV and Aids, turning his grief at the death of his son Makgatho Lewanika Mandela in 2005 to help break the stigma of the virus.

"...He insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. 'I'm not a saint,' he said, 'unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.'"

Mandela not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

"It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer," said Obama

"And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach - think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell."

Obama then quoted from William Ernest Henley's poem Invictus.

"It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

-by Sapa

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