For more than 18 years, Nelson Mandela lived in this jail cell, living his life as if everything was a miracle.
But I do believe he paved the path to greatness by radiating goodness: rewarding excellence, living generously, promoting fairness and spreading positivity. These are the cornerstones of good leadership and it changes the world.
This summer my wife Melinda and daughter Katie visited South Africa as tourists while Mandela laid in hospice. They experienced a nation knotted in waiting – pondering the state of their nation and the human race without his presence.
Without the miracle of Mandela, South Africa would be too dangerous for foreign travelers like the Batz girls — guests of a white-skinned South African Exchange student, Debbie Rigby. As tourists they visited and photographed Mandela’s famous jail cell. They walked in Mandela’s footsteps in a ghetto, on the trails of Robben Island and the sidewalks of Capetown. Returning safely from the land of the Southern Cross, our family was changed: half way around the world, we were now watching and listening for signs of Mandela.
This past Sunday, we celebrated Christmas in Christ Chapel featuring a South African freedom song Thula Sizwa. The Zulu hymn was cloaked within a 13th century processional called “Hope for Resolution.” Without the miracle of Mandela, the Zulu text would have whizzed through my wandering mind, never to be heard again. But I wanted to know what a freedom song from Mandela’s nation really meant:
Thula Sizwa: Nation, do not cry. Jehova will protect us. We will attain freedom. Jehovah will protect us.