Free at Last


This collage portrait of Nelson Mandela, whose clan name is Rolihlahla Mandiba, and is affectionally known as Mandiba, or Madiba, is dedicated to Mandela's ideals and his positive influence in the world. He is a shining example to everyone of the power of the human spirit and how much difference a single individual can make. He reminds us all that miracles are possible and we should never give up our dreams.

In this image you see a portrait on the left of Mandela in the 1950s. In the center the unforgettable image of him emerging after 27 years of imprisonment, free at last, punching his fist triumphantly into the air. I remember the combination of exhiliration, joy and disbelief I had at that moment. It was a moment that gave hope to the world. On the right the thoughtful statesman, a man of complete integrity and principle, who carried the responsibility of guiding his nation peacefully from apartheid to democracy.

Other elements represented in this image include a picture of the terrible Sharpsville massacre; the historic ballot form used in the first democratic South African election, bearing Mandela's smiling head in the column of candidate faces; excerpts from his inspiring inaugural speech when elected President; the original handwritten note by Alfred Nobel establishing the Nobel Peace Prize, which Mandela was honored with; his famous handprint with the map of Africa in the middle; and, of course, the colorful South African flag serving as a backdrop.


Mandela's 1994 inaugural speech is so moving and inspiring I'd like to share it with you here:


Our deepest fear

is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear

is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness,

that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves,

"Who am I to be brilliant,

gorgeous, talented and fabulous?"

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small

doesn't serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened

about shrinking so that other people

won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest

the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us:

it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconciously give other people

permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fears,

our presence automatically liberates others.


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