Inner Michael » Another Icon “Nelson Mandela has departed.”

Another Icon “Nelson Mandela has departed.”

That is what the current president, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, said today. “Departed” makes it sound as if the beloved and revered Mandela has boarded some form of transportation to a far off place. It was a sweet way to say it.

Still, I am sad. I knew it was coming; we all did. But it is a sad day not just for the personal loss but for the loss to the world.

For those too young to remember Apartheid, that President Zuma is a black man is itself a righteous miracle for the system of Apartheid was a parallel to slavery in the colonial days of America. South Africa was a country conquered and dominated by rulers from other parts of the world and not native to the continent of Africa. Apartheid was racial segregation and the country was governed by a minority white ruling class.

Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter and militant in his early years who spend 27 years in prison for treasonous resistance to the ruling class and segregation by color. He emerged from jail a peacemaker and wise leader and was elected president shortly after his release.

He is a beloved figure in Africa, in the world and in history.

The Anti-Apartheid movement was long and bloody. And I urge the readers here to watch the biographies, tributes and stories that will certainly emerge now with the passing of Mandela. Rarely does the iconic leader of a movement live to see his or her work come to fruition. Many leaders were cut down in their prime for political reasons, assassinated for their influence over the people to whom they dedicated their life’s work and for whom they gave their lives.

Nelson Mandela not only started the movement, became its martyr and iconic figure, but lived to ascend to the throne of leadership as president of his beloved country. He was pardoned and released from prison by South African President de Klerk and both received the Noble prize for Peace. A magnificent leader, strategist and peacemaker, and a wise, wise man– Mandela will be remembered by his countrymen and by the world.




Michael Jackson and Nelson Mandela were friends and the icons inspired each other. Michael met Mandela in 1996 on a trip to South Africa.


Nelson Mandela inspired Michael to write “What More Can I give.” Of the inspiration, Michael said in 1999: “In an earlier conversation I had this year with President Mandela,” “we discussed the concept of giving, and the words ‘what more can I give’ kept coming into my mind… we all have to do what we can, to help end the needless suffering in the world.”

Of Jackson Mandela said in 2005: “When you are behind bars with no hope of release, you need to find strength wherever you can. “Personally, I found strength in Michael Jackson.” The former South African president said that while imprisoned in the 1980’s, he drew emotional sustenance from following Michael Jackson’s recording career.

The world was graced with his presence and shall miss him. But most of all, the world should be inspired to create more miracles.


  1. Kim said . . .

    Thank you Rev Barbara. Nelson Mandela is a shining light for humanity. His legacy inspires and will live on. I hope that people do take the time to watch the tributes to such an inspiring leader as the world needs to see and learn what peace and love are about and how much it is needed to help resolve what is wrong in this world. We lost another icon for sure but Nelson Mandela will not be forgotten. RIP Nelson Mandela and Thank You!

    Posted December 6, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink
  2. Aberjhani said . . .

    Much gratitude for this post Rev. Kaufmann. A very old saying goes like this: “Folks like that don’t come around every day.” It can be said of both Nelson Mandela and Michael Jackson. In fact, ours is an era in which we have been graced with the luminous presence of quite a few rare kinds of souls. Just the inclination to be grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed their journey and share in some small measure of it helps us evolve that much more toward the levels on which they lived so triumphantly through agonizing trials, and from which they blessed so many traumatized lives.

    Mr. Mandela was his country’s George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Theresa all rolled into one. The flame of consciousness lit by his superlative example of what a human being might become when we exercise the courage to forgive and the strength to love shall burn as an eternal one.

    Posted December 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  3. Poca said . . .

    Thank you for a great tribute, Rev Barbara. Nelson Mandela proved that you can be a leader and still maintain to be humble, graceful, honest, spiritual, and able to forgive others. Like Michael they accomplished so much and inspired so many people because they allowed God to lead them not the world. They shared so many similarities and this is why Michael called him “grandfather”. We will never see the likes of these souls again; maybe in another 50 years.

    Posted December 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
  4. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    I think the mold they came from is truly one of a kind. Both of them.

    They dared to measure self and others by the yardstick of character equality and justice not politics and popularity. Did you know that Madiba was once on the U.S. terrorist list and Dick Cheney voted against releasing him from prison? Madiba dared to speak against illegal and unjust war. It seems sometimes the U.S. stands for freedom only when it suits its own interests. This is part of the waking up. Mandela was a leader who not only forgave, but listened.

    At Mandela’s inauguration he quoted Marriane Williamson from her book “A Return to Love”:
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    These principles show up in every Michael Jackson album ever made. He always encouraged people to find their light, shine, and share that light with the world, especially children.

    Here are some comments by the elders called together by Mandela to be founders of the elders:

    And Maya Angelou

    Posted December 9, 2013 at 1:02 am | Permalink
  5. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Paying my respects… I’ve been reflecting on Mandela over the last week.. Another truly good person has left Planet Earth..
    Madiba really changed people’s perception the world over.. The generation I came from saw these great person make a positive impact on our world. it should continue.

    Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink
  6. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    “Another truly good person has left Planet Earth.”

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I swear I feel a vacuum where that person filled the world with light. It’s as if an essential essence is gone. We have seen the likes of Lady Diana Spencer, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson and Nelson Mandela in the span of one century. Those who know the true story of Michael Jackson had a bit of sadness that accompanied the mourning in the passing of Mandela. It was a sorrow that Jackson was not so recognized for he was every bit the icon and humanitarian as Mandela. Mandela, recognized as a threat to the dominant culture of his country built by interlopers, was held captive in a prison made of walls and bars. Apartheid is every bit the historic testament to man’s inhumanity to man and the embarrassment that slavery was in the U. S.

    Jackson’s prison was not made of walls and bars but of words and of exile within the culture from which he sprang. Another man who dared to challenge his culture with his art was a threat to that dominant culture of his own country and to parts of the world where people were held in a fascist culture. The tabloid industry smelling blood money in his fame and unique popularity, used the method Aberjhani has defined for us: Guerilla Decontextualization to dehumanize, caricaturize and dismember Jackson in the most expansive public display ever witnessed in the history of this world. Jackson’s prison was made of words and humiliation, an assault which quite effectively nullified his voice as a voice for change and recontextualization of America and of the world in favor of a more humane culture. His cry to establish a world village (it takes a village) to embrace the innocent and voiceless (children,) address poverty and suffering (what more can I give?) and create a more humane culture worldwide (heal the world and save it for our children) was effectively nullified by a malicious mischief and lust for wealth by an industry grown insane and frenzied within the drunkenness of its own power, grown abusive.

    Words are the weapons of guerilla decontextualization:
    (From “Words and Violence”- a project and curriculum dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.)

    May Madiba and the Moonwalker find rest in each others embrace now and may their souls heal from the onslaught of a world far too often cruel in its resistance to those who would save it from itself and from the dominance of human shadow and ego. Who now will guide the biological beings dominating this planet to their own light? Who now will bring salvation back?

    Jackson, just before he departed reminded us that it is up to us. And if not “us,” then who?

    Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  7. Victoria said . . .

    There is a deep sadness for me whenever a Great One passes. And he was one of the Great Ones. Our world is a better place because we knew him and he knew us. He spoke to our higher selves and in doing so he elevated humanity in its totality to greater tolerance. May he rest in peace. Madiba and Michael please keep a watchful eye. We need you both to guide and inspire we who are left to continue the work. And we know that it is God’s work…..


    Posted December 14, 2013 at 4:07 am | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .


    Posted December 14, 2013 at 5:50 am | Permalink

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