There was a special friendship between Mr. Nelson Mandela and me: on the morning of December 3, 2008, I arrived at the Headquarters of Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg to meet with President Nelson Mandela and pay homage to the great person who was well-respected in the world and dedicated his life to the struggle of human equality, freedom and justice. In his office, we talked with each other warmly. I introduced him the history, culture, current inheritance and development of Shaolin Temple as well as the efforts Shaolin Temple had made to the orphans, charity and education. Shaolin Temple sent Shaolin Kungfu monks to Malawi to show loving care for local needy children and the orphans in AIDS families and made a gratifying achievement.
At that time, Mr. Mandela was already ninety years old and suffered from serious disease. But he was still clear-eyed, hale and hearty. He expressed welcome and appreciation for Shaolin cultural delegation coming to South Africa to make cultural exchange. He kindly talked to me: “It is important that the work you are doing and Shaolin culture have the value of humanity and they are worth of gaining everybody’s respect and admiration.” During the talk, Mr. Mandela repeatedly stressed the value of Shaolin culture using the word “Humanity”. Mr. Mandela said “Good! Good! Very good!” to the activity “Shaolin Culture Comes to South Africa”. He spoke highly of the spirit full of benevolence, wisdom, justice, self-respect and self-improvement that Shaolin Temple sticks to all the time and he hoped to strengthen the exchanges and cooperation between Shaolin culture and African culture to gain mutual development. At the end of the talk, I presented a gift to him and wished him a good health and long life. He gave me his book “Long Walk to Freedom” as a gift in return.
Learnt that Mr. Mandela died because of illness, I extend my deep condolence to him. During his lifetime, Mr. Mandela kept struggling for human well-being and a fairer and more just world. He deserved to be called “a wise man struggling for human equality and freedom”.
Farewell, Dear Mr. Mandela!
China Songshan Shaolin Temple
The Abbot: Shi Yongxin
December 6, 2013