Ref. :  000036678
Date :  2014-05-02
Language :  English
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Historical Event: A black U.S. President pays tribute on behalf of the world to a black South African President


What a great speech! My admiration for President Barack Obama is increasing. In Cairo, Newtown, at the beginning of his second term, on December 10 in Johannesburg ... President Obama has given real lessons of politics and humanism, starting the path to the radical changes that the effects of neoliberalism claim loudly throughout the world.

Instead of confrontation with Islam, an encounter instead of limitless greed with China, new threshold of relationships in "Pacific"; and medical care to the poorest Americans; and reduction of war and military investments; and incorporation of millions of immigrants who were not regularized; and, most of all, instead of arrogance, closeness...

Here there are some paragraphs of his inspiring speech in homage to Nelson Mandela:

“It is hard to eulogize any man, to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person, their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone's soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.

Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement, a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice

Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would -like Abraham Lincoln- hold his country together when it threatened to break apart.

He was able to gain a prominent place in history through the struggle, perseverance and faith. He has shown us what can be achieved not only in the pages of the history books but in our own lives.

Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals.

"I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination," he said at his 1964 trial. "I've cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with,
but those who you don’t.

Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa -- Ubuntu - that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is an oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well; to show that you 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.

But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It is a question I ask myself as a man and as a President.

For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love… This is currently happening.


We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

The questions we face today -how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war- do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born during the First World War. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows us that is true. South Africa shows us we can change. We can choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world, you can make his life's work your own”.

And President Obama ended his speech with a reference to one of the most famous phrases when Madiba was in prison: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”.

Thank you Madiba, thank President Obama for lucidly enhancing the most relevant aspects of his legacy. On the occasion of this great speech, there have been totally irrelevant multiple comments, for example related with selfies made by the cheerful and inappropriate Danish Prime Minister ... or the unbelievable performance of a “fake” interpreter for the deaf who had jumped the line skillfully discrediting security systems ... - and that there are still many, including the media who are supporters, those who prefer that their lessons go unnoticed.

Mandela was "captain of his soul." Let’s hope his example help us to be captains of our own soul.


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