Nelson Mandela wanted to be remembered as someone who “did his duty on earth”.  This means that he felt he had a responsibility towards earth.  What an incredible standpoint from which to run your life.  How many of us can say that such a worthy sentiment strikes us at all, let alone becomes the guiding principle of how we conduct ourselves throughout our life?

It’s not that I never feel responsible. I do.  I’m sure we all feel it in a variety of ways.

I feel great responsibility for the well-being and happiness of my children, of all my family. If I can do anything to positively affect my friends I will gladly do so. I feel responsible towards my employees – to ensure that they have a decent workplace and livelihood.  I want my clients to have the great holiday experience that my company has planned for them – it needs to be right. I strive hard to give business to people who own lodges and services which I know deserve to be backed – particularly ones which themselves are backing local conservation or social development.  I am disappointed when my company cannot help them as much as I would like. And I feel responsible for the charity of which I am a trustee, The Tribes Foundation. I try to ensure we help as many people as we can the small pot of money our charity is given.

It’s probably a similar story for you.  We all tend to feel a duty and responsibility towards those in our close spheres of reference – family, friends, colleagues, clients, and those reliant on us in some way.

Nelson Mandela took this notion much, much further.  He felt a duty towards a whole country, towards millions of people.  And this began well and truly before he was president.  For a president, the whole country IS his/her sphere of reference, so duty towards that country is to be expected, or at least hoped for.  Mandela’s feeling of responsibility flourished whilst he was a prisoner. His physical confines did not confine his vision, his humanity, his wisdom … his heart.

To lose such a man is a very sad moment.  The world grieves with his family and his country.

However, that a man with such goodness and such an ability to bring out the goodness in others existed at all is a source of great happiness.

Nelson Mandela gave himself the onerous duty of reconciliation and peace in his own country, and this affected the whole world. His is a story of inspiration and hope.

Yes, Mr Mandela, you did indeed do your duty on earth.

Rest in peace.

Amanda Marks

Amanda Marks is the founder and managing director of award-winning tour operator, Tribes Travel. Having started travelling professionally in her mid-twenties as a tour leader in Africa and the Middle East, she set up Tribes with her husband Guy in 1998. She travels regularly both alone and with her family, and is committed to sustainable travel so we can protect the earth's diversity and beauty for future generations.