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Nelson Mandela, the respected South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to equality and became its first black president, died on Thursday (December 5, 2013) at home at the age of 95. The world has definitely lost an inspirational and great man. President Obama has stated that his first political action was inspired by Nelson Mandela; he was an example of an honorable and respectable leader.

Though he was in power for only five years, Mandela was a symbol of enormous moral influence the world over – a representation of revolution, resistance and victory over cultural discrimination. He inspired a generation of protesters, left a lasting impression on world leaders and celebrities, won the Nobel Peace Prize and raised millions for charitable causes. Even after all the time he spent locked in a prison cell, he still continued to have faith in humanity. He had stated in Long Walk to Freedom that no one is born hating others because of the color of their skin, background or religion. People must learn how to hate, and if they can learn to hate then they can be taught to love; because love is natural to the human heart. This is unquestionably a public figure that has left his impression on people all around the world and had achieved more than expected from any man; he is finally at peace after living a long and fulfilled life.

Nelson Mandela’s family is no stranger to the public eye —its achievements and trials have been in movies, books and the news media for decades. His granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela, has recently released a book about her battles with drug addiction and cancer. The book was released in South Africa and is called When Hope Whispers. The book is about her family’s involvement in the fight against South Africa’s white minority government, her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, the loss of two of her children and her fight against breast cancer. She has stated to the Associated Press in regards to being a Mandela that she has a social responsibility; that she can’t just run away from and instead she has decided to embrace it. She says that one of the things she learned from her grandparents is that you have the power in you to make a difference in someone else’s life regardless of your own challenges.

The book talks about Zoleka’s loss of two children; one from premature birth and the other from a car accident. She has stated that she hadn’t seen her daughter for 10 days at the time of the accident and it reminds her how she chose her addiction over her children and family. Now that she is sober, she is aware that it will not bring her daughter back but she wants to use her story to inspire and help others. I think that is absolutely remarkable when public figures use their voice to help others; especially the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela. She is very widely known and I find it inspiring that she is so honest in the media and with the public about her struggles with addiction and breast cancer. In my opinion, if sharing your story can help even just one person, then it is all worth it. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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