Friday, 27 June 2008

Happy Birthday Madiba!

Nelson Mandela is 90 today.

23 years ago I took part in a demo in Hyde Park when we called, once again, for his release and the end of the apartheid regime. I can't remember whether I dared hope at the time that anyone would pay any attention to us, or to the millions of others across the world who were doing likewise. However five years later he walked out of jail and I saw him at Wembley - a small figure on the large stage, but with that now famous smile and a wave of his hand. I watched him at his birthday concert on the telly tonight, suddenly looking much older but still smiling and waving.

I listened to an interview with Stephen Fry who was refreshingly frank about the great man, saying that if, when he dies, as will surely happen sooner rather than later, our hope for the future dies with him, then it will be a tragedy. But he is just a man, like the rest of us, and if he can live for what he believes in then so can we.

In the words of the man himself: 'Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.'

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