“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today.”

So Martin Luther is credited with saying. But I’m not sure what can be said by a silly skinny white boy from Bournemouth about the figure that has just left the world stage. I was handed the freedom he had to give his whole life to fighting for. And I can’t speak for you, but I’ve done a lot of arsing about with it.

The sheer scale of the journey he took and the patience he had to endure was biblical. Born with ‘nothing’, he grew to have the courage not simply to stand in front of a juggernaut of injustice, but to survive its bitter judgement. Survive it and outshine it like a new dawn. Whatever the dirt and imperfection in a struggle, it is a vision of love that can do such a thing. And it is the work of an ordinary person who won’t give up, despite overwhelming reasons to.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” So he is credited with saying.

True iron in the soul is being prepared to wade into the hopeless fight and still wield kindness. It is the sign of hope. It is the sign that victory is already at hand.

Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. Awesome example to us all, whatever our clan.


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