“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela

This great man brought a nation together, and today that nation mourns the death of its greatest son. However, our mourning is not that of desperation, but a celebration and hope for the future.

The South African Civil Engineering family gives thanks to the Nelson Mandela family for sharing him with the nation for such a long time, and celebrates the life of this great man. The father of our nation has closed his eyes, and now the focus of the world is on his vision and his capacity for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. 

His indelible legacy and constant message to strive for the betterment of all in South Africa will remain with us. ”Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world” – Nelson Mandela during his inauguration statement as President in 1994. Notwithstanding being in prison for 27 years his belief in the goodness of people never faltered. This was very evident during the CODESA negotiations, and through his interaction with people from all walks of life. His international efforts to define what South Africa is, and what we were to become, now become the responsibility of each and every South African to ensure a positive future.

Stanford Mkhacane, 2014 President-elect of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE)  says, “It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing on of Nelson Mandela. He has acted steadfastly and with unwavering vision for the freedom of the majority, as well as equality in South Africa. We will always appreciate the valuable things that Mr Mandela has done for this nation – strengthening our delicate democracy, and pioneering reconciliation which has brought us to where we are today as South Africans.  I will always remember him by one of his famous sayings: ‘The greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall’. Let us emulate his life in everything we do in all our working spheres and our private lives.”

Today, we would like to quote President Obama: “For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived – a man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” During his address at the funeral service at the FNB Stadium, Obama also referred to the fact that Nelson Mandela not only freed the prisoner but the gaoler a well.

“To us in the engineering fraternity, His Excellency President Nelson Mandela will always be an inspiration and he stands tall in our vision to Build Africa through Science, Engineering, Innovation and Technology. To us he belonged to South Africa, Africa and the World. He was an international statesman of excellence,” says the Southern African Federation of Engineering Organisations (SAFEO).

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believed I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

We at SAICE are deeply under the impression of the great loss to our country, and to the world, of a unique and unparalleled person and statesman, indeed a giant among men. A world without Madiba is almost unthinkable. Let all of us therefore strive to retain his legacy by following his great example – leaving bitterness behind, respecting one another and never losing hope.


1 Comment

  1. I really appreciated this fine tribute to a great man who lead us into democracy.

    As always, President Obama’s speech was very impressive. However, I cannot agree with his exaggerated contention that Mandela “bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.” No one can (or needs to) change the moral universe towards justice. The moral values set by God are already just and are immutable – no man can change them. Like the law of gravity (which wise engineers respect and use beneficially) they can be violated, but only at great cost to the perpetrator and those whose rights he foolishly treads upon.

    I hope that President Obama’s script writer meant to say that Nelson Mandela inspired people to act more justly and align themselves with the moral universe set in place by God. (But I fear that both the writer and the speaker may be more inclined to imagine that the moral universe is negotiable and defined by the majority opinion of men, rather than by the unshakable will of God.)

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