TRIBUTE TO NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA

2013-12-09
Dr Pieter Mulder

Speaker,

As Christene glo ons volgens psalm 146 om nie op prinse te vertrou nie en dat alle mag, ook die mag van leiers, van God af kom.

As oud-president Nelson Mandela vandag hier was, sou hy beslis beswaar gemaak het teen die wyse waarop van hom ’n ikoon en ’n bo-menslike wese gemaak word. Hy was baie gesteld daarop om in gesprekke altyd daarop te wys dat hy deel van ’n span was en nie alleen opgetree het nie.

With the above taken into consideration, no-one can however deny the impact that Mr. Mandela had made on South Africa and on the world. The reaction following his death confirms this.

When we were young, we all had dreams as to how we would change the world and how we should put our stamp on it. It is given to few men to live out their dreams in their lifetime.  Nelson Mandela succeeded in doing this. Against big odds, he had realized the vision he had as a young man.

Can one person make a difference in politics? In my youth I was involved in many debates about this.

My argument was that politics is too complicated with too many variables for one person to make a real difference. I was wrong.

One person, at the right place, at the right time and with the right approach can make a huge difference. I still believe it to this day with regards to my own career as well. Mr. Mandela and I disagreed about many issues but he proved this statement to be true. He not only had an influence on South Africa, but on the whole world.

My eerste ontmoeting was in die negentigerjare toe president Mandela my genooi het vir ’n gespreksontbyt met hom alleen. Dit was een van sy werkswyses. Na die ontbyt en die uurlange gesprek was my opsomming dat vriendelikheid en nederigheid sy sterkste eienskappe is, maar dat jy nie vir ’n oomblik oor sy klipharde wil om sy doelwitte te bereik, moet twyfel nie. Die sentimentele teddiebeer sagte-oupa beeld wat mense wat hom nooit ontmoet het nie, van hom het, is in hierdie opsig misleidend.

Hoe beskryf ’n mens mnr. Mandela? Mandela die jong aktivis wat aan die ANC-leiers se^ dat geweld al is wat oor is en toe in die tronk beland? Die middeljarige Mandela wat Afrikaans leer ten einde die Afrikaner te verstaan? Of die ouer wyser Mandela wat ons by die onderhandelinge leer ken?

Which two words would describe him the best? I would say: Dignity in adversity. He also had the two essential qualities which are necessary for genuine statesmanship; that rare combination of the idealistic and the severely practical.

A leader, who acts merely to be popular, isn’t a real leader. A real leader must be prepared to go against the majority, because he/she knows that they are wrong and he/she must provide leadership to them in doing so. It is not always easy. I remember how he addressed forty thousand people in a stadium and strictly reprimanded them because they did not sing the Afrikaans part of the anthem.

From the reaction from ordinary people following his passing away, it appears that his popularity largely lay in his humane approach on a personal level.

On a Sunday afternoon there was a call from Mr. Mandela to my home. He did not want to speak to me, but to my daughter. My daughter was chosen as the Dux student at her university and a short report about this had appeared in the Sunday newspaper that morning. Mr. Mandela phoned to congratulate her.

I started by stating that it is given to few men to live out their dreams in their lifetime.  Nelson Mandela succeeded in doing this. The question is, what were these dreams of Mr. Mandela?

He most probably summed it up the best in his address in court in 1964 and again in his first speech following his release when he stated: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized, but my lord, if it needs be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And also: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”

The question for all of us following the passing away of Mr. Mandela is to which extent has South Africa achieved these goals? It is not a day for politics, but my observation is that we are busy repeating some of the mistakes of the past. This time only, in reverse. The test in all debates in the future should be whether these dreams of Mr. Mandela will become more or less real for South Africa? Remember Edmond Burke’s truth: All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

On behalf of the Freedom Front Plus I wish to express my sympathy with former President Nelson Mandela’s wife and family following his passing away.

 

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