On Thursday, December 5th 2013 former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, passed away in his Johannesburg home.

At Ashesi we challenge our students throughout their stay here, to examine the people who have helped shape Africa as we know it, and gain understanding of what it takes to make an impact in the world. Since our inception, the name of Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela has continued to resonate with us. We have looked up to him as an African hero – a leader who demonstrated our collective ability to change the world with courage and conviction. 

Mandela was part of a generation of leaders that challenged the status quo for Africa.  He caused people around the world to think, to question, and to stand up for justice and the dignity of humankind. Rarely have we seen people who have been able to touch lives so strongly – across countries, across time. Rarely have we seen men capable of resisting the urge for vengeance even as they have fought injustice. Rarely have we seen men who amidst remarkable eulogies have been unafraid to admit their weaknesses and work on them.

Madiba’s strong belief in the transformative power of education has inspired us all. “Education is the great engine of personal development,” he once said. “It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

We stand with the people of South Africa today, in celebrating the life of Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela. His bravery, his vision, and his never-ending fight to see Africa reborn, continues to drive us on. He will always remain a symbol of true leadership to us, and to the world: unchanging; unforgettable.