July 18, 2006
Happy Birthday Madiba!
Former South African President and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela turned 88 years old today. On Monday he held a private party for the staff of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Foundation works on two of Mandela’s concerns: making a difference on the HIV/AIDS issue and improving the situation of children in rural schools.
Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail (about a third of this life), said he never expected to live to be 88. One remarkable feature of Mandela both as an individual and leader of a Free South Africa was his quest for knowledge. Even the mental and emotional torture of 27 years on Robben Island was not a barrier for education. In his memoirs, “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela wrote:
“As freedom fighters and political prisoners, we had an obligation to improve and strengthen ourselves, and study was one of the few opportunities to do so”.
This rings true today in Africa as its people mobilize and demand a knowledge-driven leadership where the country’s administrators are learned people who make sound decisions on economic and social policy issues while engaging civil society.
May he continue to lead us forward for the next 88 years.