Nelson Mandela, the highest example of leadership, the shepherd that led from behind, has died. Madiba has left us but, as leaders ourselves, we cannot but recognize and cherish the value of his example and of the ideals he so unwaveringly nurtured throughout his life.
Mandela was unique not because he was untainted, but because he learned how to make of our imperfect humanity a common ground for accord. He persevered in fostering understanding as the only way to free us all from hate and prejudice. Madiba was the first recipient of the first Club de Madrid Democratic Leadership Award, established to distinguish and promote not only political, but also ethical and unwavering leadership, a leadership that translates vision into action for the benefit of Humanity.
Very few people have had the gift to do so much for so many. Madiba was one of them.
It was in 2008, in Johannesburg, when my predecessor, Ricardo Lagos, presented this exceptional human being and leader the inspirational sculpture crafted by Spanish artist, José Manuel Ballester. In summarizing the reasons for granting him this award, President Lagos said.
“Through his actions Doctor Mandela has inspired millions of people all over the world to continue fighting for freedom and a democracy that delivers, in the belief that shared societies are not only necessary but also possible”.
These words clearly encapsulate the mission and vision of the Club de Madrid. Mandela is and will always be our role model and inspiration. We shall indeed aspire to follow his model, take his baton and be moved to action by the call he made to each and every one of us when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, ensuring that:
“This must be a world of democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to become refugees. Inspired by the eminence you have thrust upon us, we undertake that we too will do what we can to contribute to the renewal of our world so that none should, in future, be described as the “wretched of the earth”.
And just as his life will forever inspire our universal search for justice and humanity, so will his legacy forever carry on, even as his spirit rests in peace.