Rest in peace, Madiba

4138While the world mourns, South Africa sings. A great man is no more. Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully last night and yes, it hurts. It makes me think of the days I learned about Mandela when I was just a teenage girl. It makes me wonder if we will ever see such humility and greatness in one person ever again.

What Nelson Mandela taught me, was the way you can do well by others, not by force but simply by being you.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s
chains, but to live in a way that
respects and enhances the freedom of others.

(Nelson Mandela)

Everyone has a message they want or have to bring, each of us wants to strive for a better world. Having been a philanthropist for years, my heroes were people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and others that stood up against all odds to change the lives of many.

The first use of the word philanthropy means ‘humanity loving,’ like Prometheus was in Aeschylus Prometheus Bound (line 11, 460 BC). These days ‘philanthropy’ means ‘focusing on the quality of life’ and that is something I have been quite involved in. Living with MS (and all its negative connotations) turned into advocacy, and it is has become my surest way to happiness.

“To deny people their human rights is to
challenge their very humanity.”

(Nelson Mandela)

While I don’t want to take away from Mandela’s goodwill, criticism followed people like himself, Mother Teresa and Gandhi because they too were not 100% perfect. Perfect meant they could not see the change that needed to happen in the world. Mother Teresa for example was criticised for not distributing pain medication to patients who were tormented badly. In Mother Teresa’s own philosophy, the reason for doing so was “the most beautiful gift for a person is, that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ‘.” This sounds diabolical these days, and it is hard to marry her philosophy with what we define as proper human rights today. Nevertheless, as a young teenager, I admired Mother Teresa before I was able to grasp her criticism.

Nelson Mandela was in my view. a seeker of truth, of integration, socialism and quite concerned with freedom of speech, in body and soul. I don’t believe there was a bigger or greater philanthropist alive. At 95 years old and now sadly passed away, Mandela’s ideology is still very much alive. I hope his legacy and fight for freedom will continue to live long after his death.

Looking up to these people, seeing the changes they were able to achieve, it all makes sense. Gandhi and Mandela were just a few of those I saw as true, as real. I admired them greatly because they gave the word ‘philanthropy’ an even bigger meaning: do well, no matter what. If you can’t feed a hundred, then feed just one.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear,
but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who
does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
(Nelson Mandela)

Seeing Nelson Mandela doing well by others, forgiving those who hated him and trying to change the lives of the many looking up to him, I cannot be but amazed and humbled. When I first thought about advocating for people with disabilities, I looked to Nelson Mandela. If he was able to move a country into desperately needed change with so little hatred and anger, then surely anyone can stand up and fight.

Where words can make you feel worthy, actions truly make you feel fulfilled. And that, was all because of one man: Madiba.

To read the original article, please go to:


nelson-mandela-quotes-sayings-wise-wisdom-life©WVE and Ireland, MS and Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, MS and Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Wonderful tribute! I too admire all of those “greats” and wish people would realize that they are still human, as you astutely pointed out. It makes me angry when people put down Obama so harshly. No, he’s is not perfect, but he sees the inequalities and sticks out his neck to right them. And, I’m not trying to place our president in the same company as those in your article, it just made me see the similarities! Keep up the good works :)
    As an aside – if you get a chance, you might be interested in a post that I reblogged on my blog. I was reminded of your post about writing – I think you might like it! (not trying to boast my blog, I swear!).


    • Billie says:

      Thank you Colleen, always appreciate your comments :)

      You will find a real Obama-lover in me (and democrat tout court :)) Let me just say that you had the likes of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Obama is a short distance away from them (short). At the moment, due to a memory issue in my head, I cannot think of anyone else to add to the list, but yes, I totally agree with what you say about Obama.

      Nobody’s perfect, absolutely nobody, and it’s usually the people that have seen and lived through the worst of times in their country that know how to deal with the misery in front of their eyes. Obama saw in Chicago what needed to be changed in order to have a proper country, healthcare for each and everyone for example. If republicans want to bash him for this, then the republicans have to come forward with a better plan to give healthcare to people who need it the most. Usually republicans are only good in one thing only: cryonism, so I’m afraid they’d mess up Obamacare from day one. As you can tell, I’m a democrat even though I am not American :D

      Will read your post now; been so engrossed in following Mandela media that I kind of forgot I had things to do on my blog. :D


      • I knew I liked you for good reason! lol You, my dear, are brighter than half the American citizens (and probably more). Republicans and Tea Party-ers are scary creatures that go bump in the night.
        I hope you find Ned’s Blog post encouraging! He’s a funny, smart and sweet guy.
        Be well :)


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