Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 28 January 2015

It's the small acts that truly reflect Nelson Mandela's legacy

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrives for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrives for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the MK sing and dance during the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left, watches as President Barrack Obama hugs South African President Jacob Zuma, right during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Princess Letizia of Spain, center, speaks with Former U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Right is Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Former British Prime Minister John Major, left, speaks with Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Former U.S. President George W. Bush, right during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Former U.S. President George W. Bush, right, wave while Chelsea Clinton walks past during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A spectator watches a telecast of U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks during the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Park on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
President Barrack Obama speaks to Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
In this image from TV, US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. The handshake between the leaders of the two Cold War enemies came during a ceremony that's focused on Mandela's legacy of reconciliation. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
President Barrack Obama embraces Nelson Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela?Mandela after making his speech during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets former South African President F.W. de Klerk during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets Cuban President Raul Castro and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets former British Prime Minister John Major at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife, listens to speeches during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
In this image from TV, US President Barack Obama speaks to the assembled crowds at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, left, and South African President Jacob Zuma stand at attention during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A man holds the official programme ahead of the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in the Johannesburg, South Africa township of Soweto, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Former British Prime Minister John Major, left, shakes hands with former U.S. President George W. Bush as they arrive for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
In this image from TV, supermodel Naomi Campbell, left, arrives at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, ahead of a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
In this image from TV, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, centre, arrives at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, ahead of a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
In this image from TV, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott arrives at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, ahead of a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
In this image from TV, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrives at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, ahead of a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. Hundreds of foreign dignitaries and world heads of states gather Tuesday with thousands of South African people to celebrate the life, and mark the death, of Nelson Mandela who has became a global symbol of reconciliation. (AP Photo/SABC Pool)
Britains Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
President Barack Obama waves to the crowd from the stands as he arrives for the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: President Barack Obama (L) and first lady Michelle Obama look at a the program while attend the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: World leaders, including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and current French President Francois Hollande attend the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: (L-R) Cuban President Raul Castro, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Andrew Mlangeni and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon attend the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: South African actor Charlize Theron blows kisses to the audience as she arrives for the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel, right, and his former wife Winnie MadikizelaMandela, left, sit on stage during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Spains Prince Felipe, center, arrives for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Former Bishop Desmond Tutu, right, and Irish President Mary Robinson arrive for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, right, arrive at Waterkloof Air Base for a memorial service in honor of former South African leader Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in Centurion, South Africa. World leaders, celebrities, and citizens from all walks of life gathered for a memorial service on Tuesday to pay respects to Mandela. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Former British Prime Minister John Major arrives for the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Members of the Mandela family take their seats on the stand during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013.(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Images of Nelson Mandela though the years are flashed upon a screen during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, right, arrive at Waterkloof Air Base for a memorial service in honor of former South African leader Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in Centurion, South Africa. World leaders, celebrities, and citizens from all walks of life gathered for a memorial service on Tuesday to pay respects to Mandela. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Lasers beam an image of former South African president Nelson Mandela, clan name, Madiba, projected onto Cape Town's Table Mountain, Monday Dec. 9, 2013 to honour Mandela on the eve of a memorial service to be held in Johannesburg. Mandela died last Thursday after a long illness after a long illness aged 95. Mandela will be buried in his hometown village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province on Monday. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)
A mourner holds his arms up during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: World leaders and dignitaries sit during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A general view of the arena during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public sing as they make their way by bus to the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A passenger pries open the doors of a moving train carrying people to the Nelson Mandela memorial service to gain a view of the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public walk towards the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public sing and dance as they arrive for the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa., on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 09: A young South African girl names Malika is lifted by her mother to kiss a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela before a service conducted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on December 9, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mandela, also known as Madiba, passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left, is greeted after arriving for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie MadikizelaMandela, center right, arrives for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Actress Charlize Theron waits with musician Bono for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Actress Charlize Theron attends the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
French President Francois Hollande, centre right, speaks with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, 2nd left, ahead of the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
South Africa rugby union captain Francois Pienaar waits for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, left, and Belgian King Philippe arrive for the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A mourner poses with his homemade hat before the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public celebrate as they arrive at Nasrec Station by train to attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Spectators watch a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Park on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: People wave flags with the image of Nelson Mandela while attending a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Park on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A man wearing an ANC top featuring Nelson Mandela, makes his way by train to the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Spectators watch a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Field on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: People sing and dance while attending a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Park on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Rain falls on a poster of Nelson Mandela sitting in the window of a bus outside of Ellis Park before a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A spectator watches a telecast of the Nelson Mandela memorial service at Ellis Park on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Singer Bono and his wife Ali Hewson attend the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair embraces a guest as he arrives for the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrives for the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Singer Bono and South African actor Charlize Theron arrive for the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa.vä (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to the media as he attends the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public sing and dance inside the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public walk towards the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Members of the public walk towards the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A man holds up a page from a newespaper amongst members of the public singing and dancing inside the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: A man sings passionately as he waits for the Nelson Mandela memorial service at the FNB Stadium, on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over 60 heads of state have travelled to South Africa to attend a week of events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr Mandela passed away on the evening of December 5, 2013 at his home in Houghton at the age of 95. Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for his activism against apartheid in a racially-divided South Africa. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

One of the benefits of the internet is that news which, 20 years ago, would have been observed 'after the event', largely by written accounts, mostly by still photography, are now on our phones as they happen. It's saturation. But it is good, largely.

Recently, the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination saw the usual stock footage – accidentally-acquired on the '60s equivalent of iPhones – re-run endlessly. Remember Churchill's funeral with the cranes at London docks lowering in salute as the barge carrying the great man's body passed under?

But these are snapshots only and they had to be hunted down. Even Princess Diana's death and funeral, though the subject of global attention, couldn't acquire the actual instant coverage that the death of Nelson Mandela has been afforded by new technology.

Of course, it is Mandela's life rather than his death which fuels the attention – in this, his obsequies resemble those of Churchill, rather than JFK, or Diana.

His was the life of a Great Man. There are such things. Mandela reminds us that they exist. There are Great Women also, of course – Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi to name but two.

There are individuals whose lives, private and public, come together in such spectacular ways that they change not only nations, but what we expect of ourselves and what is suddenly regarded as 'possible'.

Forgive me for not rehearsing the qualities of Mandela's greatness in this short space. They are well-known and only rather chilling ideologies have failed to put them in the foreground this week.

But surely it would be a mistake not to acknowledge how complicated the character of greatness is? Mandela's personal negotiations between physical force, mandate, suffering, restoration, reconciliation, Justice and Truth – those big things – were and remain very valuable moments in this new century. How he managed to translate those into public and national political doctrine and strategy even more so.

His legacy will be pored over for decades. The methods of his political practice in uniting a nation have already been tested and tried elsewhere, not least among ourselves in Northern Ireland, with mixed results.

Mandela toiled with Zimbabwe as much as anyone else; he had no prescription for any other mess than the one in his own place which (with the Middle East and Iran) was forever in the top three of world flashpoints.

But that is not his fault or to say the principles are inadequate. It is just to say that the force of his personality, the integrity of his endurance in prison, the vast new meaning he gave to the word 'humanity' as a quality rather than a collective noun, were inseparable from his practical politics after release and the achievement of his vision insofar as he was able to effect that as his country's first black president.

Sanctifying Mandela, though, would be to miss the whole point. Forgetting the young, rightfully angry, lawyer and militant in favour exclusively of the grey-haired avuncular patron of the nation is missing the point, also.

But forgetting the older, wiser ex-prisoner would also be an error. Images of Mandela through his lifetime, from monochrome to colour, tell the story of a life almost exclusively given to the welfare of others, to an almost absurd degree of fidelity. That's not to downplay his involvement with violence, or its context in a state without democracy. It is simply to highlight the central virtue of this man's life.

He found a nation in a stand-off with its own populations. Somehow, he added to the old categories of the iron fist and endless resistance a whole set of strategies which his personality fashioned, for the first time really, into practical political options.

We all know good people. Some of us have even known great people in the small ways of the daily world, whose greatness Mandela would have recognised just as he would have understood their anonymity. It is in these small ways that the rest of us can aspire to attain greatness of humanity in Mandela's sense.

Look after your neighbour. Think about the civic good. Vote with your conscience. Vote. Accept your responsibility. Say your piece. Make sure the weak and vulnerable have access to power. Don't victimise or distress or harm those who have been hurt or who don't know any better.

All that applies to those in power – with guns, with numbers, with influence – as much as to those without those things. These are not platitudes. These are a programme for government.

Good night, Nelson Mandela, and thank you.

You've left us with all the problems we would rather have.

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