LAMB OF GOD singer Randy Blythe was one of many musicians who have taken to social media to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and a groundbreaking civil rights activist.
Mandela died on Thursday (December 5) at age 95. One of the foremost civil rights leaders in his battle against apartheid, he had spent 27 years imprisoned for treason and his work and eventual release captured the hearts of the rock world — especially those of U2, Paul Simon, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt — all of whom went to great lengths to raise awareness of Mandela’s imprisonment and the plight of black South Africans living under apartheid.
Writing on his Instagram account, Randy said: “[On Thursday] Nelson Mandela died, and many people will take to social media to say ‘RIP Mandela’ and post a picture of the great man, free and smiling after 27 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to commit sabotage and conspiracy against the South African apartheid government in 1962.
“He was one of the finest humans of our time.
“I grew up hearing of this man imprisoned in South Africa, and I, like millions worldwide, was overjoyed when he finally was released in 1990. He came out of prison and within four years was South Africa’s first black president, having spearheaded the political movement that peacefully ended the racist apartheid government. He did great things for his people after he was free, there is no doubt. But this picture is a far more telling testament to what kind of man Mandela was than any modern photo. Here he is defiantly raising his fists with other men on the way to prison — he had JUST been given a life sentence.
“Mandela knew what would happen with his trial, and instead of focusing all his energy on keeping himself free, he disrupted the trial by wearing traditional garb, refused to call any witnesses to his defense and turned the trial into an arena for political speech to show the world what was happening in South Africa. He sacrificed his own freedom so that his people could one day be equals in their own native country, because he knew something had to change, and if he had to go to prison for LIFE to speed that change, so be it. He was a living example of DOING THE RIGHT THING, NO MATTER WHAT THE COST. THAT is a REAL MAN. In fact, one of his most famous quotes about prison was this: ‘If I had my time over, I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.’
“So rest in peace, Nelson Mandela. I can only hope others will take a page from your book. Your 27 years of hard time are a blessing to us all.”