Millions of people from all over the world have been paying homage to old President Nelson Mandela, while critically ill in hospital with lung infection. The public tributes and demonstrations of love and respect fill one with sadness, wonder and pride as a South African.
One invariably ponders what the man Mandela had done as a man and leader to inspire this magnitude of sympathy, love and respect. Was it the way he lived his life, was it the sacrifices that he made during his time in prison, was it what he did for people and the country or was it the values and principles that he stood for? It is a mystery that must be demystified so that future generations of leaders can learn from it.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu used the word magnanimity to describe the personality and influence of the icon. The word is rich in meaning and covers many of the attributes we adore and respect in people. The word refers to:
· A greatness of mind and soul;
· The disdain one has for injustice and meanness;
· The ability to rise above revenge;
· The sacrifice of personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects,
· The delight one takes in acts of benevolence;
· The ability to encounter danger and trouble with tranquility and firmness.
We can gain greatness as a nation when we heed his personal contributions, values and principles. A culture of magnanimity would be the great legacy of the icon.
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