Early this morning I received the news of Madiba’s passing. My immediate thought was that a great and righteous person had left the world and that the world was immeasurably poorer as a result. The balance of goodness in the world had been thrown dramatically out of kilter.
‘What are the implications for the world?’ I asked myself with grave concern. Who can possibly replace Madiba’s greatness?
As I drove in to work, I switched on the radio and listened to various tributes being made about Madiba by people who were close to him. There were also various recordings of Madiba. His speeches at the Rivonia Trial, on his release from prison and at his inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. Hearing his strong, steady, warm voice, interspersed with the tributes, brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. How much we all loved Madiba. How much he meant to our country. How important his life story, his struggle and his ultimate triumph for the world. How much he will be missed.
The question returned – who can possibly replace Madiba’s greatness?
Several thoughts have come to me since then.
I was reminded of a wise saying which states: “In a place where there are no leaders, become a leader”. I was also inspired by another email tribute that I received entitled ‘Live Like Mandela’ where the author states:
“..the best way to pay tribute to those who have passed on is to do good deeds in their honour. The greatest tribute we can pay is to live like Mandela, in accordance with the values he practiced and taught – values of human dignity, forgiveness, kindness, courage, tenacity, strength, honesty and integrity. Let us all resolve to follow President Mandela’s inspiring moral legacy and let us commit to living in accordance with the values he taught us…”
Greatness is not bestowed. It is earned. Greatness is not a momentary achievement. It is a life’s work. Greatness is not an attribute of an elect few. It is within the capability of each of us, created in the image of G-d.
The question of ‘who can replace Madiba’s greatness?’ is a flawed question if it assumes that one person, elect, will instantaneously, miraculously be bestowed with greatness to replace Madiba.
Madiba’s passing is a challenge to each of us to access the unique potential greatness in ourselves and, inspired by his legacy and out of a sense of duty to perpetuating the values of his life, begin our own life’s work to collectively shoulder the burden of replacing the greatness that has been lost to the world today.
I am sure that I speak on your behalf in expressing our condolences to Madiba’s family and friends who have not only lost a leader and a loved one (as we have) but who have also lost a great grandfather, grandfather, father, husband, confidante and life partner.
Hamba Kahle Tata. You Are in Our Hearts
LANCE KATZ, MANAGING DIRECTOR