forgiveness leads to freedom

Nelson Mandela is not only an iconic leader in the history of mankind but also one of the supreme humans who has lived on the planet. He’s a truly inspirational figure and we all can learn a great deal from the way he handled himself during extremely difficult times and all the ordeals that he had to go through. 

During his incarceration in Robben Island, the cell was that he was given was terribly small. There was no bed and only a small wooden table that he would kneel at to write in his journal since there was no chair. He slept on a concrete floor and had one woolen blanket.

Even though it was freezing during the South African winter, for the first year of his imprisonment, Mandela wasn’t permitted to wear long pants. Only a thin shirt and cheap shorts were given to him. 

He didn’t get privacy even while taking a shower; the guards stood there and tried to humiliate him. The food that he was given was unhealthy by all standards. The letters that came from his family were either not delivered or badly censored. All these attempts were made to crush Mandela’s spirit. But he used this mistreatment as a fuel to cultivate inner strength and advance his soul. 

Later, on the day of his release [during the final period of his imprisonment, he was given the warden’s home], he walked out of the house and reached a long paved road where there were a guard post and a white gate at the end of it. When Mandela was asked if he wanted to get a ride down this road that led to his freedom, he politely declined and told the prison personnel that he would rather walk. His steps to his long-awaited liberation earned a special place in the history and the legacy that he left continues to inspire people all around the world. 

Mandela was a gem of a person. After his release, he invited the prosecutor who had demanded a death penalty for him to dinner. Along with that, he also asked one of the jailers who watched over him in Robben Island to attend his inauguration as the president of South Africa. No other man in his place would do that. 

He not only endured a terrible ordeal but he also used this experience as a fuel to refine himself. He had come into the prison as a militant young man — hostile and hot-headed. But he changed himself over time. He used the extreme suffering that he went through to purify and elevate himself and become an icon that is now revered by people around the world. 

He was a true leader and a genuine embodiment of forgiveness. Later, he wrote, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Nelson Mandela firmly believed that the true nature of the human heart is to love, not hate. And only love and forgiveness can set us free.