Michael Rowland deeply, fondly Remembers the Optimism of Nelson Mandela

For the Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit, popular Australian TV breakfast host Michael Rowland shared his reminiscence of meeting Nelson Mandela and urged young people to follow his example.


Michael Rowland: I had the great pleasure, the great privilege, the great honour of meeting Nelson Mandela when he visited Sydney back in 1990, shortly after being released from jail in South Africa. I recall many things about that business; I recall Nelson Mandela's very firm handshake and his beautiful smile.

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"I deeply, fondly remember the optimism and the hope springing from his speeches.

"And let's not forget this is a man who had just spent decades in that prison and lived with the sheer indignities that evolved in apartheid in South Africa.

"Speaking with great hope for the future of his country, he, of course, went on to become South Africa's president, but at the time, his country still faced so many challenges. But the hope is something I remember coming from his speeches, from all those comments he made on that visit.

"We, too, in Australia have our own share of challenges at the moment, care of the pandemic. Of course, those challenges can't be compared in any way with spending decades in jail, but they are profound and everlasting challenges nonetheless.

"And my advice to young Australians is to get involved. The rebuilding of our society, economy, and way of life will not take months or years; it will take several years. So get involved, raise your voice, and play your part at a local, community, state, or national level.

"Youthful enthusiasm and youthful vigour are something that this country will need in large numbers throughout the next couple of years, if not the following decades.

"I have great optimism for the future of this country. This pandemic will end, but it will take a lot of hope and a lot of optimism to get us through to the other side. And this is where you all come in. All the best."

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