Nelson Mandela: The world mourns


By Bharat Azad

Nelson Mandela's achievements in later life were inspirational. Nelson Mandela's achievements in later life were inspirational. (c) Andres Ubierna The news of Nelson Mandela’s death at the age of 95 has been met the world over with a sense of sadness and loss. It is also a time to reflect on the huge achievements of one of the most remarkable and influential men of the last century, many of these in his later years.

Mandela was 72 when he was finally freed from prison – he had previously refused release without other prisoners being freed. He was finally elected President of South Africa in 1994, at the age of 76. He served a five-year term before retiring from politics, already having reached his eighties.

Mandela’s presidency and his subsequent work helped to heal the trauma of Apartheid through a process of truth and reconciliation and with a generosity, forgiveness and warmth towards his oppressors.

A source of inspiration

A source of inspiration to other civil rights activists around the world, Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. His birthday, 18 July, has been declared Mandela Day, a global celebration of his legacy and a day dedicated to promoting global peace.

Mandela saw older people as key to the health of a society and to its stability. He was also a founding member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.

The Elders recognise those with decades of experience mediating and resolving conflicts around the world as well as acknowledging the importance of leading by example, creating positive social change and inspiring others to do the same.

On 1 October this year, International Day of Older Persons, the Nelson Mandela Foundation tweeted: "A society that does not value its older people denies its roots and endangers its future."

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