Nelson Mandela is the greatest African of all time. No one can top that. Even Kwame Nkrumah will have a hard time filling his shoes. Mandela is an angel and on the day he’s called to the yonder, the heavens will stand still to welcome him back home.

No human being spends 27 unjust years in jail and comes out oozing with forgiveness. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” he said. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

Of all the African freedom fighters, he suffered the most. Yet he’s the only one amongst the lot who led his nation to independence but refused to clinch to power as if he owned the country. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur,” he said. “You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

He used his short stay in power to promote peace and reconciliation among his citizens – not to hound his opponents, saying, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

It is in recognition of his rare humane character that United Nations General Assembly decided to pass a resolution that July 18 every year should be observed around the world as ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’. In passing the resolution, the assembly hailed Mandela’s “promotion of a culture of peace.”

Nelson Mandela, a Nobel Peace Laureate, deserves every recognition he gets. Hundreds years from now, he’d be remembered as a true African legend – an angel amongst men and mankind would forever thank the heavens for sparing him for almost a century.

The world would never have another Mandela. But, hopefully, the UN General Assembly’s decision to set aside a day to celebrate his life will help breed more sensible, peace-loving leaders – especially in Africa – who will not seek strength in dividing their people along political or ethnic lines; leaders who will not stop thinking about how the world will remember them after they are long gone. “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right,” the great man says.

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