Bishop Kevin Dowling on Mandela
Mandela recalled as a man who inspired others to uphold human dignity
[...] In a telephone interview Dec. 6, Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, said Mandela "lived the values that make life truly meaningful" and explained that the former president's "memory invites us to reflect on our call to be human beings with each other and for each other."
Bishop Dowling, vice chairman of the Southern African bishops' conference justice and peace department, helped establish the conference's parliamentary liaison office in Cape Town soon after Mandela was elected president.
The bishop recalled one day in November 1995 in which he met Mandela twice: once at the funeral of a king of the Bafokeng people and later in Oukasie, a tumbledown township that was the site of significant struggle during apartheid, for a gathering of the international Young Christian Workers.
In Oukasie, Mandela "headed straight for the kids who were there and there was such mutual joy at seeing each other," Bishop Dowling said, noting that Mandela "always had such smiling eyes and an exceptional love for children."
Then Mandela "asked me if the people at the meeting were all from different countries and when I confirmed this, he said, 'then I must greet them all personally.'"
"So there was this old man, who had had a very long day, shaking hands with every person there, asking them what country they were from. And the look on those young people's faces as he did that ...," Bishop Dowling said.
The values Mandela portrayed -- "understanding, compassion, reaching out to others -- are values I aspire to, and I think every one of us feels the same. He was what we yearn to be ourselves: profoundly human," he said.