Nelson Mandela has died. As Scripture puts it, God has blown upon this fair flower and he has returned to dust:
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it... - Isaiah 40:6, 7
But who was Nelson Mandela? If you recognize that Reformed theology is simply Biblical theology, it's important for you to know.
The history of Nelson Mandela's fatherland and apartheid is bound up with Reformed men and their theology just as the history of the Confederacy, the Civil War, and slavery in America is bound up with Reformed men and their theology. God hates injustice, oppression, and the bloodshed of innocents, whether the oppressor is Pharoah in Egypt, Jezebel in Israel, Nero in Rome, the Roman Catholics in the Middle Ages, or Protestant and Reformed Christians in South Africa or these United States.
So then, to help with an understanding of Nelson Mandela's work, here is the text of the opening speech he gave at his Rivonia Trial in 1964. The title of the speech comes from the speech's final words, "I am prepared to die."
For what was Mandela prepared to die? Read on and see. I've provided links for names, organizations, legislative acts, and terms average readers would find confusing. Near the end of the text, I've provided a link to an audiotape of the speech you can listen to as you read the final paragraphs of the text.
Nelson Mandela spoke for four hours. When he declared "I am prepared to die," as he said it, he looked directly in the eyes of the presiding judge, Dr. Quartus de Wet. During the rest of the trial he never again made eye contact with Judge de Wet. Following his conviction, Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, eighteen of those years on Robben Island. South Africa's President F. W. de Klerk released him on February 11, 1990.
My son Taylor is married to a beautiful Afrikaans-speaking South African woman...