The entire world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, the Leader who was fighting for the dignity in our societies. As President Obama said: ”He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages”.
I was fortunate to meet Him personally several times in my life and to feel His glory and, what is even more important, His simplicity and humbleness.
I met Mandela for the first time in June 13, 1990 when He gave a speech at the European Parliament after being released from the prison, where He spent 27 years of His life. For the second time I met Him during the Conference, organized at the Belgian Senate. During the dinner Mandela introduced me with Mr. George Bizos, His Greek Lawyer and co-fighter, and with whom I have elaborated friendship and cooperation through the years.
In Johannesburg, April 1994, when we were observing the first multi-racial elections, we heard Mandela and De Klerk, through the TV all night long saying that “tomorrow will be a different day for South Africa and for World”. In the next day Mandela was elected as a President of South Africa. Indeed, the changes were coming.
We have met again Mandela during His visit to Greece at Megaron Moussikis of Athens.
He was very sensitive about Greece and He encouraged another legendary and inspiring personality, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to be present at AWEPA / GAAEC Conference at Zappeion, in June 23-24, 1994, organized during the Greek Presidency.
We feel confident, that Mandela’s legacy will stay alive to teach ourselves and next generations, and will remind the values of our lives.
Mandela once said:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
We keep this quote in our minds and as a moto for all our educational programs we have.
I would like to conclude with one of Mandela’s the most applicable ideas for today for Greece and any other country:
“A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”.
His legacy will last as long as we will keep in our minds the value of human, dignity, freedom and equality.