(NNPA)—“The cemeteries are full of indispensable men,” Charles De Gaulle, the great, imperious hero of World War II and subsequent president of France, is said to have remarked in the late 1950s to an aide who had just declared he was the only man who could save the nation.
De Gaulle was by no means the first to use that formulation to describe an eternal truth: We all must die not when it’s convenient for us or the world but when the bell tolls for us.
But if it’s true that indispensable people—be they our own loved ones or the world-renowned—cannot live forever, it’s also true that cemeteries cannot imprison their spirit and their impact.
So it will be with Nelson Mandela.
Millions of people around the world joined millions in South Africa these past two weeks in both mourning the death and celebrating the extraordinary life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
What clairvoyance his parents had giving him that middle name. In his native Xhosa language it literally means “pulling the branch of a tree;” but its idiomatic translation is troublemaker.