Rare Human Being: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela by Rev. Sindile Dlamini

Sindile Dlamini
Sindile Dlamini

Rare Human Being: Nelson Mandela

Our guest blogger today, Rev. Sindile Dlamini, comes from South Africa.

Nelson Mandela Tribute

The outpouring of sympathy at the passing of Tata Nelson Mandela still intrigues me. (Tata means father in Mandela’s Xhosa language). The global leader has left an indelible mark in the lives of many people the world over.

When I spoke to a colleague recently, he continued to express his grief for Mandela describing him as a rare human being.  As I pondered, Nelson Mandela was indeed a rare human being who was marked for greatness from his birth.


At birth, he was given the following name: Rolihlahla. In our culture the naming ceremony of a child carries great significance as it determines a child’s destiny. When translated, Rolihlahla, means trouble maker. And Mandela would become a troublemaker of great significance as he dared to speak truth to power to the point that he was incarcerated for twenty seven years. At the dock, he dared to say he was even prepared to die for the cause of a free and democratic South Africa. In prison, he continued to be a troublemaker fighting for the rights of prisoners who were subjected to unbearable conditions. This caused him to win the respect of his jailers and on a wider context those who had imprisoned him to the extent that they were willing to begin negotiations for his release and set the stage for transforming South Africa into a democratic state.


Another flash back to his names–while he attended primary school, his Methodist teacher gave him the name, Nelson, after the great Admiral Lord Nelson, a British Navy service man. It was the missionaries practice to give African people English names when they arrived in Africa.  Perhaps most African names were a tongue twister and they wanted African people to assimilate to the religious culture. Yet, on hindsight, this has led to DuBois’s “double consciousness.”  Like Lord Nelson, Nelson Mandela led and lived a life of service, consumed with serving his people through the political machinery and movement of the African National Congress party; leading to his appointment to serve as the first black President of a free and democratic South Africa. In this position he modeled reconciliation, forgiveness, and social justice.


After his death, we continue to reflect on a life well lived, a life that fulfilled its God given purpose and destiny.  As a South African living in the United States I marvel at how much our histories intertwine. When I mention that I am from South Africa, most people will invariably ask me about Nelson Mandela. Indeed he is a rare human being who touched lives not only in South Africa but in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

In Psalm 2:8,  the Psalmist poses the following question: “ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession”. Sublimely Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela asked the question and God answered a resounding, yes, as evidenced by his life, service, and rare status.

Biography for Sindile

HU Stage Rev Sindile Dlamini
Rev Sindile Dlamini

Rev. Sindile Dlamini comes to Washington DC by way of Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

In May 2011, she graduated with a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity. She started as the Research Assistant in the Office of the Dean and served as Secretary and Elections Coordinator for the Student Government Association.  In 2009, she was a Graduate Student Assembly Humanitarian Award recipient. She also received a Special Recognition Award from the School of Divinity Student Government Association.

She advocates for youth to participate in service projects in the city such as Martin Luther King (Jr) Day of Service and Howard University Alternative Spring Break Service Project. In this context, youth learn the value of giving back and making a difference in the community. In this way their service competence will effect positive generational change for the community, locally and internationally.


She is also an associate minister at Michigan Park Christian Church under the leadership of Pastor. Marvin Owens and has served as a Board Secretary in 2011-2013 and participates as a Christian Education teacher.  In addition, in the wider community she is a board member for Life Restoration Ministry, Baltimore, MD. She serves as a Diaspora Coordinator for Vuka Africa Foundation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Currently, she is a Professional Chaplain at Howard University Hospital providing pastoral and spiritual care to patients, families and staff. In addition, she has previously worked as a chaplain at George Washington University Hospital. There she strengthened her pastoral care skills with palliative care patients and the trauma unit.

Publicly, she has appeared on ABC, NBC Channel 4 and Sheryl Lee Ralph Radio Show. There she talked about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela and highlighted Mandela as a symbol of social justice, reconciliation and service and truth.

Therefore she desires that her gift and calling advance the kingdom of God in all spheres of society.

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