When Nelson Mandela Asks, You Listen and Act


May 17, 2013


Have you ever been with Mandela and he asked you to do something?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu on forming The Elders council.

Mandela asked me to do something once too, along with 1,000 others crammed into St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia where he was honored at an non-denominational church service. He called us to action, to forgive, to heal, and to act. That was 22 years ago. I got to meet him afterwards and have never forgotten his quiet charisma, his calm authority.

Forgiveness, healing and action, from a man who’d been in prison for 25 years is a profound concept. I had spent a year in South Africa a few years prior. Nelson Mandela was still in prison when I lived there. South Africa was in the final stages of apartheid. It seems unimaginable now.

When Mandela asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu to be part of The Elders, there was no refusing. Likewise, there is no refusal from me, when I am reminded of his call to action, of his encouragement to teach my children so that history is not repeated.

It is Mandela’s 94th birthday today. Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is frail and slowing down. Tonight at the dinner table, we will be talking about my hero. And I will be renewing my personal commitment to do something. Join me by taking action or donating today.

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