It won't be easy to forget the smile etched across that bright face, the laughing eyes, the soft voice that oozed kindness saying nice things to people all the time. Happy faces, excitement, smiles galore everytime he appeared anywhere. Children, pensioners, academics, labourers, clerics, gangsters, rich, poor, everybody loved Nelson Mandela.
In this era, no statesman ever reached such heights in popularity as him.
But Madiba was not just a statesman.
No statesman becomes such a household name just by engaging in politics and furthering the interests of a country.
Never forgetting that this same Nelson Mandela was a firebrand ANC activist who stood up to the dictatorial apartheid regime, and whose big booming voice was recorded in court hurling threats and challenges fearlessly at the racist all-white government.
Fearless and imposing, he left in chains, silent, yet visibly unbroken in his determination to deliver his promise to himself and his people that the chain of injustice would one day be snapped, and truth would prevail.
What hardship he endured on the notorious Robben Island as prisoner 46664, over 27 years, could not kill the fire of hope and courage.
His spirit survived. And grew.
A new spark suddenly appeared and ignited his heart with a different flame.
The inclination of Love and Compassion dominated as his inward struggle of mind, body, and soul, found shelter in a transcendental outlook towards life, and towards humanity, in particular.
The modern world's role-model- ambassador-of-peace was born. Right there on that island of misery under the sneering glares of jailers and torturers, and the gritty fortitude of other prisoners.
That Nelson Mandela who walked out of prison in the last decade of the millennium, was no less the man than before his incarceration, but much more.
As time witnessed, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, had walked into and upto the highest floor in modern days Hall of Fame.
His character and personality sparkled showing glimpses of true greatness, as of a human being who had reached the pinnacle of self-realisation and peace.
His valued example at so many levels of life leaves a legacy that will always remain, and enlikened to ...the timely heaven-sent rains which put out the bush-fires that could have escalated into hell's-own inferno!
How can we walk past the monuments, the eulogies, orbituaries, accolades, and the spirit of the nation, unaffected, while the whole world stands in respect and awe at the passing-on of a special human being?
And Allah is all-Aware!
Permission to publish on my blog obtained from writer : Irshad Ahmed Siddiqi