Nelson Mandela is dead.


South Africa’s beaming example of the potential of humankind has departed the world. But his legacy remains in the simple text of South Africa’s Bill of Rights. Almost fifty years after apartheid’s dark stain began and some eighteen years before Amendment One sullied North Carolina’s landscape, the South African nation drafted one of the most comprehensive statements of human equality on earth.

Nelson Mandela and his compatriots sought not only to create a sovereign nation where all color was equal. They also intended to establish a brave and open world which celebrated the diversity of all its people — rich and poor, religious or not, gay and straight.

Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected. Chapter 2, Bill of Rights, Section 10.

Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. Chapter 2, Bill of Rights, Sections 9(1) and (3).

Today, I will sing the songs celebrating the struggle. We will listen to Simple Minds and Mbongeni Ngema loudly on the stereo. I will teach my young son to honor his name and recognize his contribution to our world. And I will hope that one day, my country, too, will lift its lamp to enshrine the dignity of all people.


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