Nelson Mandela – A Tribute from the Black Sash Trustees and Staff

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The Black Sash honours the life and legacy of this exceptional South African, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and shares the profound sense of loss of the country as a whole at his passing.

Even while he always stressed that he was part of a leadership team, his own qualities caused him to be admired and respected throughout the world. He embodied the vision of a South Africa which would belong to all who live in it, where justice and democracy would reign supreme.

We honour him for his courage and dedication, for his concern for the poor, for his respect for the rights of women as fully equal citizens, and for his commitment to a better life for children and all young people.

We were honoured by his recognition of the role of the Black Sash, in his tribute paid in his first public address after his release from 27 years of imprisonment. We were also honoured later, when veterans of the struggle were invited to meet him at a celebratory lunch, and Black Sash members were included. We believe that the values which still guide our work, after 58 years of existence, were also important in his long life of service: they include justice, dignity, affirmation of women, integrity, courage, and the importance of volunteer service and the building of a strong civil society.

We pay tribute to a man who will be long remembered for his inspiration and example. As a leader he demonstrated accountability to those he led and service to the public good. As an individual he taught by his life that each person has a responsibility to the wider society.