Social and Political Commentary

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Obama on Mandela

... the words for Mandela say a lot about Obama

by Ed Boyd

In his lovely eulogy of Mandela, Obama says,

“Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land. It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities-to others and to myself-and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And why I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what is best inside us.”

Obama goes on, “It is hard to eulogize any man - to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that makes a life-their private joys and sorrows: the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.”

And using Mandela’s clan name, “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well; to show that we must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity, and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.”

I took these quotes from A3, December 11, 2013, The Boston Globe. Obama’s comments do capture the essence of Mandela. These are Obama’s words that say much of Mandela but also the man speaking, Obama.

January. 2014

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