Caes. Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I have yet heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
Today we mark the passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013), the champion of human rights in South Africa. Mandela served 27 years in Robben Island prison for his revolutionary efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. While he was in prison, Mandela and his fellow inmates distracted themselves by reading from a tattered copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The book passed from hand to hand and each inmate annotated a favourite passage. The copy came to be known as the Robben Island bible, and has been displayed in exhibits at the British Museum, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and its home in South Africa.
Mandela’s chosen passage, taken from Julius Caesar, speaks to his bravery and his tenacious spirit. These words also bring comfort as we remember him today. They remind us not to mourn for someone who feared death, but to celebrate the life of someone who was willing to die for his beliefs.