The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 28, 2013

Our View: A leader among leaders

The Joplin Globe

— “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Nelson Mandela

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, just weeks away from his 95th birthday, continues to command attention even in the twilight of his life.

And well he should.

He will forever be remembered — much as we remember Martin Luther King — as the civil rights leader for South Africa. He led a campaign of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against his government and its racism.

His activism led to his arrest, and in 1963, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His release was finally arranged 27 years later.

Here is a man who paid for his beliefs dearly, but who never wavered. We believe he would have gladly paid with his life in the name of democracy.

Largely through his work and that of F.W. deKlerk, South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994.

Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77.

His awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, are endless and his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” which he secretly wrote while in prison, is a story that all should read.

Today, even while the hospitalized Mandela clings to life, his name is synonymous with the word “leader.”

His passing will leave a void in this world.

But his legacy to his country, and to all mankind, will eclipse even his death. Mandela’s July 18 birthday was declared Mandela Day in 2009 and is meant as a day to encourage citizens worldwide to give back.

We would urge you to consider a way to do so in honor of one of the great leaders of our time.