As the world mourns South African leader and humanitarian Nelson Mandela after his death Thursday (Dec. 5th), many are remembering the anti-apartheid icon with heartfelt tributes and reflections for his lasting legacy, not only in his country, but all over the world.
U2’s lead singer and activist Bono was lucky enough to have grown close with Mandela over the years, and wrote a touching piece about Mandela’s work and inspiring outlook on life, forgiveness and peace on Time.com.
Bono begins his reflection saying, “As an activist I have pretty much been doing what Nelson Mandela tells me since I was a teenager. He has been a forceful presence in my life going back to 1979, when U2 made its first anti-apartheid effort. And he’s been a big part of the Irish consciousness even longer than that. Irish people related all too easily to the subjugation of ethnic majorities. From our point of view, the question as to how bloody South Africa would have to get on its long road to freedom was not abstract.”
He continues by noting Mandela’s crucial involvement fighting the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and ending extreme poverty, saying “without his leadership, would the world over the past decade have increased the number of people on AIDS medication to 9.7 million and decreased child deaths by 2.7 million a year? Without Mandela, would Africa be experiencing its best decade of growth and poverty reduction? His indispensability can’t be proved with math and metrics, but I know what I believe…”
Bono also writes about Mandela’s unshakable optimism and ability to turn his former foes into friends saying, “He had humor and humility in his bearing, and he was smarter and funnier than the parade of world leaders who flocked to see him.”
Read Bono’s entire tribute to Mandela on Time.com.