Who is Nelson Mandela?

When I was asked to write about Nelson Mandela, I had very little knowledge about the man, or apartheid or the oppression that happened. After reading about him, I instantly understood why he was so great. The idea of a rainbow nation, of equality, of peace and of freedom, which he was so prepared to fight and die for, that was a dream that he dared to live. It was a dream for many people in his nation, but he was the man who dared to stand up and actually do something about it. Talk about obstacles in his dream, he had many…too many, but 27 years of imprisonment, hardships and sickness did not stop him from pursuing his dream.

Speech from the Dock quote by Nelson Mandela on 20 April 1964:
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

What I know about this great man is very shallow, but the admiration I have for him is vast and I know I share the same view with a lot of people. I’m writing this piece for I Share Hope, a motivational podcast that shares true inspirational stories of hope. We ask our guests five questions about hope. One of those questions is, “Who has shared the most hope with you?” Many have answered parents, siblings, children, friends, mentors and some answered Nelson Mandela.

One of the I Share Hope guests actually had the opportunity to meet Mr. Nelson Mandela in the flesh! Here’s a short part of our conversation with Ms. Amy Bowllan:

“The one person who I have to say made a change in my life was Nelson Mandela. I have to say I met him in a very precarious way that no one would ever dream they’d have this opportunity. I was starting my career in journalism as basically someone who was getting coffee. I didn’t know anything about Nelson Mandela, mind you. I was like, I just want to go because my grandmother and my great grandmother would talk about this and my father. I was so taken by the fact that I’m meeting somebody I don’t even know if I’m meeting them, but I’m actually being in the presence of somebody who’s supposed to be so great. I was amidst so many people all over the world, waiting for him, all reporters. You know what he does? I’m looking up like this trying to reach, he looks at me and I look behind me and there’s only the wall because I’m a peon basically, he looks and he says “You, how are you?” He told his security guards, “Get her.”

This is a man who just got out of jail, who has been in rocks, who was fighting against apartheid. I mean he was more than what I knew. That defining moment, I said to me, you know what Amy, you have to take what he did and use it to everybody else you come across. You have to give everybody a chance no matter who they are, what walks of life. He gave you a chance just to be – I don’t know if it was a photo op. It didn’t matter to me. It was like, I’m in the company of greatness.”



Another I Share Hope guest that talked about Mr. Nelson Mandela being an inspiration for hope was Andrea Harrn, a psychotherapist and author of The Mood Cards which is a card deck of 42 moods and emotions for self-awareness, empathy, connection, emotional intelligence and healing. She said,

“Nelson Mandela. Just the way that he was locked up those years and then when he came out, he didn’t hate. He didn’t want revenge. He just wanted to move forward. He just has a peace about him, a way about him that is very inspirational.”

Another great example of Mr. Nelson Mandela giving so much hope is through the different foundations he has. Mr. Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa was amongst the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. He was recognized by this initiative and was awarded for being a leader of hope despite all the circumstances in life he had to go through. I think that was one of the best things about Mr. Mandela, he knows his opinion matters and he uses that power to inspire people around him who, in turn, share the inspiration to more people.

Amy Bodden-Bowllan, Andrea Harrn and Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa are just three of the many people who were inspired by Nelson Mandela’s hope but the inspiration did not stop there. These men and women have taken this inspiration and shared the same to many in their own ways. The battle for equality, freedom and social justice is still being fought in a lot of nations around the world and Nelson Mandela’s story is a great example that there is hope that one day things will get better. If every person in the world would choose kindness, no matter how small or irrelevant it may seem, it could still be a spark that starts a fire. Nelson Mandela made it easier for us because he did start a fire, but it’s up to us to keep the fire burning. That one tiny flame you have, protect it, don’t let it die – let your light shine and spread the hope!