Nelson Mandela rose from South Africa’s backwaters to become a global statesman. His struggle for equality, justice and basic human rights captivated the world and helped end an unjust system.
His passing is a moment for all of us to reflect on our own lives. Too many politicians today, including those in Indonesia, are too self-centered and concerned with immediate gain rather than working for a long-term goal.
Mandela spent most of his adult life in prison yet he found a way to heal the wounds of his people and unite his country. He was able to achieve this because he never sought personal gain and remained true to his ideals until his last breath.
We may not see another like him in our lifetime. But he offers a lesson that we must not forsake. While he may not have a direct link to Indonesia, his courage, humility and tolerance are values Indonesia’s political elite can and should emulate. At a time when our nation is wracked with growing religious intolerance, Mandela is a role model for us.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono praised Mandela as a great peacemaker and true humanitarian. “On behalf of the nation, the people, the government and as an individual I express the deepest condolence for the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela.”
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Mandela had inspired the world, especially developing countries like Indonesia. “A towering figure against the heinous policy of apartheid, whose struggles served as a rallying call the world over against racialism, colonialism and other forms of injustice.”
Vice President Boediono said the world had lost its most influential figure, calling Mandela “the great human of the century.”
As the world mourns the death of the greatest moral authority of our time, it is his life that we must celebrate.