Why is racial repression important to know
DOCUMENTATION Excerpts from Barack Obama's speech. Mandela is a "giant of history"
“Every eulogy about a person is difficult: to capture in words not only the dates and facts that make up a life, but also the true essence of a person - their private joys and sorrows, the quiet moments and unique features that illuminate a person's soul . How much more difficult this is for a giant of history who has led a nation to justice and with it billions around the world. [...]
For the people of South Africa, for those around the world whom he inspired, Mandela's passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life.
But I think it should also trigger a time for self-reflection in each of us. We must honestly ask ourselves, regardless of our status or circumstances: How well have I applied his teachings to my own life?
It's a question I ask myself, as a person and as a president. We know that like South Africa, the United States has had to overcome centuries of racial oppression. As here, too, this demanded sacrifices - the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, until the dawn of a new day.
Michelle and I are beneficiaries of this fight. But in America and South Africa, and in countries around the world, our progress cannot be obscured: our work is not yet finished. The struggles that come after the victory for formal equality and universal suffrage may not be as dramatic and morally straightforward as the previous ones, but they are no less important. Because all over the world today we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people with no prospects for the future. All over the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and they are still persecuted for what they look like, how they pray, or who they love.
This is happening today!
So we too must stand up for justice. We too must stand up for peace. Too many of us happily co-opt Mandela's legacy of racial reconciliation, but briskly oppose even moderate reforms that would do something against chronic poverty and increasing inequality. Too many leaders claim solidarity with Mandela's struggle for freedom but do not tolerate dissent among their own people. And too many of us stand aside, comfortably in indifference or cynicism, when our voices need to be heard.
The questions we face today - how to promote equality and justice; how to defend freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and religious war - find no easy answers. But there were no easy answers for the child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us: It always seems impossible until it's done. South Africa shows us that this is true. South Africa shows that we can change, that we can choose to live in a world that is not determined by our differences, but by our shared hopes. We can choose a world that is not determined by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.
Never again will we see Nelson Mandela. But let me say to the youth of Africa, to the youth all over the world: You too can make his life yours. Thirty years ago, when I was still a student, I heard about Nelson Mandela and the fighting that was going on in this beautiful country, and it stirred something inside me. It awakened my responsibility to others and myself and sent me on an unlikely journey that has now brought me here.
And while I'll never catch up with Mandela's role model, he makes me want to be a better person. He speaks to the best in us. When this great deliverer is laid to rest; when we have returned to our towns and villages and resumed our daily routine, then let us seek out its strength. Let's look for his greatness of mind, somewhere within us. "
Translation: Dominic Johnson
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