Obama’s moving tribute to Madiba

US President Barack Obama makes a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela.
US President Barack Obama makes a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Obama said it was an honour to celebrate “a life like no other” and thanked the Mandela family and South Africa for sharing him with the world.

Calling Madiba the “last great liberator of the 20th century”, Obama compared Madiba to Gandhi in his resistance and Martin Luther King in his voice for the oppressed.

He said it was easy to see Mandela as an icon and detach him from his struggles.

“But Mandela insisted on sharing his doubts and fears. It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humour, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so,” Obama said.

“He moved a nation towards justice and in the process moved billions,” added Obama and acknowledged Mandela’s role as a son, father, husband and friend.

He said Madiba showed the power of action and accepted the consequences of his actions.

“Finally Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There’s a word ubuntu – a oneness to humanity, we achieve by sharing ourselves with others.

“We remember the gestures large and small, that revealed the depths of his empathy. He changed laws but he also changed hearts,” Obama said.

He added that while Madiba’s passing was a time of mourning and a time of celebration, it should also be a time of self-reflection, where people ask themselves “how do I apply his lessons in my life”.

“I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man,” Obama said.

Obama concluded his tribute by referencing the quote, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”, adding “and what a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply.”

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