Mandela had gift of longevity - Jackson

2013-12-13 16:05
US civil rights campaigner Reverand Jesse Jackson comforts a woman who was taken to one side after being overcome with emotion after walking past the coffin of South African former president Nelson Mandela. (Matt Dunham, AFP)

US civil rights campaigner Reverand Jesse Jackson comforts a woman who was taken to one side after being overcome with emotion after walking past the coffin of South African former president Nelson Mandela. (Matt Dunham, AFP)

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Pretoria - Instead of retaliating against the apartheid regime, former president Nelson Mandela uniquely chose to forgive and reconcile, US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said in Pretoria on Friday.

"He had endured 27 years of prosecution, it was a big moment in history when he was released. There is a lot about his willingness to forgive and move on," he said after viewing Mandela's body lying in state at the Union Buildings.

"He has brought us to another stage where we are now free to vote, to pursue education and to travel. I am just pained over watching him for one, perhaps, last time."

Jackson joined thousands of people who viewed Mandela's body lying in state for the third and final day on Friday. He said Mandela had been blessed with a long life, which he lived to the fullest.

"Something unique is the gift of longevity that God gave him and he used it to make big choices. When he was released after so much prosecution he could have chosen revenge but he chose redemption."

"He could have chosen retaliation but he chose reconciliation," said Jackson.

He urged world leaders to unite in honour of Madiba's aspirations, and advance the common goals of fighting poverty, war, and underdevelopment.

"Every child should have a balanced meal and have drinkable water. Many leaders, it seems to me, see the wrath of the prison of their own domain - my own war, my own country."

"They got to see the world through the door, not through the keyhole.

Mandela's life was well lived. He lives in us now, if we keep fighting to keep hope alive, he is living," said Jackson.

Mandela died last week on Thursday at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, aged 95.

His state funeral will take place on Sunday in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at

- Share your memories of Nelson Mandela with us.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  jesse jackson

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