15 DECEMBER 2013


"I stand before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands."
-- Nelson Mandela, February 11, 1990

So much has been said by now on the universally-revered icon of leadership. He was not just a political leader, despite his sharp political instincts. He was not merely a teacher, "Madiba," which we all called him, although all of us learned a great deal from his guidance. He was not solely an admirer of beauty in all its forms, although beauty was projected from within his heart and soul.

We selected the opening quotation from Mr. Mandela's first speech as he walked out to liberty and assumed the historic Presidency of the first multi-racial South Africa because it indicated simply yet clearly one source of his instinctive leadership: HE CARED for everyone else. He respected everyone else's HUMAN DIGNITY. The Royal Xhosa Chieftain sought to serve his loyal people rather than they serve him. They reciprocated with similar loyalty. So did the rest of the world.

Whoever was blessed to be in contact with him, like those who followed him, was uniquely impressed by that simple and clear feeling: Nelson Mandela, our precious Madiba, cared for us; for every one of us. That's not only a quality of a leader or a teacher, but also a heavenly gift.

(Photo Credit: UN PHOTO 188277 / E. Debebe Doc. WP/GAVAL)