The world is marking the passing of a great human being.
The world was a very different place when he started his journey it is hard to imagine now. He did not have to take on the struggle. Instead he could have chosen a prosperous middle class life as a lawyer, but only by moving abroad or living in a country governed by apartheid—a system of laws designed to keep a white minority in power in South Africa, a system that treated others as less than human, more like animals.
Half a century ago some white South Africans used a corrupt form of Darwinian thinking to convince themselves that humans with different coloured skin are a different species. Maybe a different kind of ape like those species where the physically strongest becomes the leader of the troop.
Yet we are all apes—according to Darwin.
Nelson Mandela was strong. His was inner strength, willpower. So he campaigned, and when that did not succeed he started to fight for change.
Arrayed against him was the collective power of an organised society. A society that had the power to; make laws, build weapons and prisons, employ people to fight and to staff it’s prisons..
So Nelson Mandela was arrested and imprisoned. Now his inner strength his personal power, came to the fore and was tested.
Though he was in prison his strength led others. His will to change his country was unbroken. He had been prepared to fight and die for freedom, and he still was prepared to die.
We are lucky to be alive in an amazing age. Even half a century ago people were already living a global village life. So more and more people learned of the struggle against apartheid. Mandela could be locked away but he could not be killed—for that would add to his strength.
Killing him would expose the then South African governments collective power, with its guns and prisons, was a lie if they did not keep their own laws. Some would have killed him if they could, like Steve Biko was killed.
All over the world people responded to the struggle. We stopped buying South African oranges. In Ireland women went on a long hard strike rather than sell South African products. IT became a struggle between two sets of collective power.
Still the South African regime tried to break Mandela. Denied toothpaste, perhaps they hoped he would become powerless as a toothless old man. He cleaned his teeth with salt from the sea. It was a struggle of human will.
After holding Mandela in prison for a quarter of a century the South African government was not stronger. Instead the country was isolated in trade in music in sport.
As a last ditch attempt his captors tried to soften Mandela’s will with a little luxury. But his inner resolve was still there his will held.
When he walked out of prison Nelson Mandela was met by the South African Prime Minister as an equal. But in reality Mandela was stronger.
The film ‘Triumph of the will” was a nazi paean to Hitler and the belief that some humans are less than others—not human, animals.
Yet if we are animals Mandela’s struggle of will shows that we are all the same species. Our global village one great troop of Darwin’s apes. For the struggle of will only matters if we are all the same. The alpha Baboon does not have to prove stronger than the Gorilla, just the other Baboons.
Mandela used the symbol of rugby, at one time the outcast sport of white South Africans, to reach out to the people who had oppressed him and people like him.
His struggle was over—won—all are equal.
Nelson Manuela's strength of will has shown that it is not race but people that matter: With will power, and the right cause, one person can change things, make the world a better place. It does not matter were you are born, or what you have, no matter the limitations, all humans are equal.