nelson-mandelaIt’s not often the death of a famous person moves me to tears.

I don’t cry for movie stars, artists, musicians and most certainly not for politicians.

But I did cry this morning when I heard the news of Nelson Mandela’s death. And frankly, I’m feeling more than a little emotional still.

We all know Mandela was a great man. He changed lives and his legacy will live on long beyond the tributes and remembrance services that will be held in his honour.

I am neither black, nor South African. Yet he changed my life. I remember the day he was released from prison as clearly as though it was yesterday.

I was 17 years old, getting ready to finish school and head off to University – the start of my adult life. I was in fact about to experience my own version of freedom – the freedom of young adulthood and leaving home.

I was at home, in the living room, beside the window, as I watched the momentous moment of his release on tv.

I had read all about Mandela and Apartheid in school, and I was in complete awe of a man who would give up his own freedom for over 20 years – almost 3 decades – to serve and liberate the lives of his people.

And I am still in awe of the courage of this great man.

I believe that rather than simply shedding tears over the death of Mandela, we should celebrate the incredible achievements of his life.

And our greatest tribute to Mandela is to stand up for what we believe to be right – and fight that which we believe to be wrong.

We allow ourselves to be told that one individual can’t make a difference.

We can. I can.

We must. I must.

We will. I will.

Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela.