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President Barack Obama speaks during memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 12/16/2013, 7:14 a.m.
Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela give the Black power salute as they enter Soweto's Soccer City stadium, South Africa. The stadium was packed with 120,000 people there to hear his speech. Udo Weitz

We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world – you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.

After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.