STORIES
Hero's hero

Nelson Mandela

by Raffi

We heard it from Mandela, turn this world around
For the children--turn this world around
He's done it once before, and now we hear his call
For the children--turn this world around

The dreams of our young ones born into this world
Need respect and love to come alive
Honoring the children is what we're here to do
Now is the hour and we've got the power to

Turn, turn, turn, turn this world around
For the children--turn this world around

--from Raffi's song "Turn This World Around"
(A Song for Nelson Mandela)

At the launch of the Say Yes to Children campaign in 2000, my hero Nelson Mandela said it was not enough for world leaders to continue to spout rhetoric. What we need, he said, is to "turn this world around--for the children!" This inspired me to write a song I hoped would become a rallying cry to help create a child-honoring world�a world that truly honors its young.

Nelson Mandela ( Photos courtesy of The Mandela Page)
Nelson Mandela ( Photos courtesy of The Mandela Page)

What inspires me most about Mandela is the way this tenacious freedom fighter spent twenty-six years in captivity without becoming bitter or demeaning his jailers; refused two offers to be set free on the principle that only free persons can enter into a contract; triumphed over the temptation for revenge; mastered his own lion-heart, and with it confounded his captors such that they felt captive--to their stark injustice. Like the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, apartheid, that once impregnable and violent partitioning of people by the color of their skin, disintegrated over time and crumbled, outdone by an unbeatable color-blind foe.

Despite tremendous outward oppression Mandela remained unbeaten and unbowed. That achievement is so striking because he had to resist not only the assaults of his captors but the temptation to surrender to anger, bitterness, and hatred.

His is also a story of the indomitable spirit of South Africans who prevailed at long last over insurmountable odds, by sheer determination, by faith in the vision of a unified homeland, by the grace of music and celebration they kept alive in the darkest of their times. South Africa's triumph is testimony to the power of mind and heart over despair. A boxer turned champion peacemaker inspired a nation of believers and won the support of a world of sympathizers.

Human history is rarely as compelling as when we can see how the actions of one person can move so many and change so much. Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and has received more than 50 honorary degrees from universities all over the world. Yet, even in triumph, Mandela has maintained a humble demeanor that marks this uncommon man with the common touch, father of a nation, hero in a turbulent age.

Mandela is that rarity among public figures, the one who stays true to his origins, true to his calling--in his case, to a lifelong pursuit of social justice. Even in elderhood Mandela has not retired from public life. He works tirelessly to address the state of the world�s children, to "turn this world around."

Page created on 8/11/2014 6:52:37 PM

Last edited 1/6/2017 5:30:39 PM

Related Links

Nelson Mandela Foundation - A living legacy of Nelson Mandela, the foundation focuses on Mandela's life, work, and vision in order to bring about social justice.
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund - strives to change the way society treats children and youth.

Extra Info

Copyright 2005 by The My Hero Project

MY HERO thanks Bill Bradley for contributing this essay to My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them.

Thanks to Free Press for reprint rights of the above material.


READ MORE!

Read more about Nelson Mandela on the Nobel Prize website. CLICK HERE

Read what other My Hero Guest have to say about Nelson Mandela in their own "My Hero" stories.

  • Abdullahi Jalloh, from Sierra Leone, calls Nelson Mandela a "Freedom Hero." Read his story

  • Jeff Trussell writes that "...Nelson Mandela was a fighter. Instead of bowing down...he became a lifelong warrior in the battle to free South Africa." Read his story

My Hero: Extraordinary People
on the Heroes Who Inspire Them



Author Info

About Raffi

If you've had a child--or been one--in the last thirty years, you know Raffi Cavoukian, or Raffi, as he is known to millions. His award winning songs like "Baby Beluga" and "It Takes a Village" teach children and adults about the role they play in the ecological web that connects us all to one another. Sophisticated music and lyrics make his music a delight for child and adult alike.

Raffi has earned many honors for his work, including the Order of Canada and the United Nations� Earth Achievement Award. Raffi's mission is to inspire and educate parents, teachers, and businesspeople to honor the children in their lives and the children of the world. His songwriting is intended to inspire a global attitude that is "child honoring," for only then can we hope to achieve a truly enlightened society. Raffi is committed to raising awareness about the fundamental rights of all children everywhere to enjoy such basic necessities as safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, and the care of loving grown-ups.

To read more about Raffi, click HERE.

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