Like most of the world, I did not know much about the liberation struggles in Africa until the early 1970’s. Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela were the giant liberation leaders on the continent at that time. I had the honor of being a member of a welcoming party to America for the president of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure.
Today, President Mandela is the only survivor of that illustrious and brave group of liberation leaders. On his ninetieth birthday, he still holds true to the values and aspirations he had in prison for South Africa. As a result, during his presidency, shortly after being released from prison, South Africa transitioned relatively smoothly from a social system of aparthied to one of full democracy in less than four years.
After the many atrocities that were committed against black South Africans, along with the inspiration of South African Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu, President Mandela commissioned a Truth and Reconciliation forum. This venue allowed the members of the former apartheid regime who were accused of atrocities against black South Africans to come face-to-face with their accusers in hopes of healing all of South Africa. This forum proved to be tremendously successful and has been duplicated in other war-torn areas of the world, as well.
Because of President Mandela’s world-renowned leadership qualities, he has been lifted to the status of one of the greatest leaders, ever. Happy birthday, Madiba! And thank you for your many years of unwavering love and service to South Africa and freedom loving people all over the world.