Dear Parents, Staff and Pupils,
In April 1994, I accompanied a school boy rugby team to Australia and I can vividly remember sitting on the flight back from Sydney, contemplating what our future, my future, holds knowing full-well that Nelson Mandela was going to be the new President of South Africa in that same year.
I might add that probably 90% of the plane’s occupants shared the same sense of anxiety and insecurity that I felt. At the time, Nelson Mandela was just a name to me. Someone who had been sent to prison for acts of terrorism a long time ago.
Well, we all know that the world and South African ended up a far richer place with this amazing man having been the head of our country. At the 1994 Independence Day celebrations, Mr. Mandela said these words:
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
This man was the epitome of servant leadership because his focus was on the well-being of his people; of all races irrespective of their political affiliation; he brought a nation together!
So how did he do it?
- Did he attack the other side?
- Did he demonize the people who unjustly imprisoned him?
- Did he call them names?
No. He did none of these things. In fact, in his speeches, he referred to himself as the people’s servant. Think of that. He didn’t remind anyone that he won the election. He didn’t focus his discourse on reinforcing his position of power. His attitude of service wasn’t new. But it definitely was rare. And it still is—more so every day, in fact. Rare and immeasurably powerful.
We all, at Unity College, salute Nelson Mandela’s legacy, we give thanks for his life, his leadership and his devotion to humanity and to humanitarian causes.