It seems almost presumptuous to add yet another voice to those of world leaders and talking heads lionizing Nelson Mandela today; however, I was fortunate to have met with him several years ago and I am motivated to share a personal remembrance.
Mr. Mandela was already long out of office, but not out of power. We met on one of his last trips to the UK, and the voyage and advancing age made him appear frail. However, his voice was clear and his eyes twinkled brightly – especially when we talked about the then approaching South African World Cup. Mostly, we spoke about Reuters which the great man credited with helping to keep him alive all those years on Robben Island by continuing to focus world attention on his long and lonely fight for freedom, both personal and national.
What I shall remember most are his gentle smile and soft eyes, but what the world should not forget is his superhuman lack of bitterness or desire for revenge after being treated so badly for so long by the country he loved. That reconciliation was possible after such unjust treatment should give us all hope that other deep and bitter conflicts can also be overcome.
Mandela the human body finally gave out at the remarkable age of 95; Mandela the example and aspiration for us all had already long-passed into rightful immortality.