Prime Minister Freundel Stuart Tuesday night called on Barbadians to follow the example set by the late former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and to put country first.
“What Nelson Mandela did in 1990 after coming out of prison and promoting that Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to put his country above his own personal concerns.
“He was not preoccupied with revenging himself on those who wronged him, he was not preoccupied with having others avenge the injustice that was done to him, he was more concerned . . . with looking forward and trying to build a country that had helped to create him and to which he felt a solemn obligation,” said Stuart in an address to the official opening of the Mandela Freedom Park at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
The late freedom fighter walked out of prison in Johannesburg back in 1990, after serving 27 years in jail. Mandela later participated in the eradication of apartheid and served as the first black president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and died in December 2013 at age 95.
Even though Mandela was deprived of the most productive years of his life, Stuart said Mandela had come out of prison determined to forgive those who had wronged him, and had made his term of imprisonment fertile, rather than squandering it in self-pity and despair.
However, he told the gathering that included Nelson Mandela’sgrand-daughter Ndileka Mandela and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg Ihron Rensburg that even though Mandela remains a source of inspiration to people across the world his “largeness of heart” tended to elude humankind.
In fact, the Prime Minister warned that life had a way of creating prisons for people, and suggested that they should imitate the late president and look inward and find that solution “that makes imprisonment a redemptive experience”.