Usually, for sainthood to be bestowed on an individual that individual would have to have been dead for at least a few generations, but the world bestowed "sainthood" on Mandela the Great in his lifetime.
In my humble opinion, if one excludes the religious leaders of the world, Madiba the Great is one of the greatest persons to have walked the face of the earth. This great man who had suffered persecution from the day that he was born, who was denied a stable family life, who saw how tens of thousands of families were destroyed by the apartheid government and who, after 27 continuous years in prison, walked from Victor Verster Prison on February 11 1990 into a new world. Holding Winnie by the hand and with tremendous natural dignity, he graciously acknowledged the tremendous adulation of the crowd who had come to welcome him and cheer him on for the future.
It was the first time in 27 years that Madiba the Great could freely look up at a big sky, see trees, TV cameras, women, children and babies, hear so much noise and faced assassination. In spite of this sudden sharp change of environment, he was not fazed nor did he stumble. And five hours later when he addressed, from the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall, the tens of thousands who had gathered to hear his first public address in more than a generation, he could have been forgiven and the world would have understood if he had expressed bitterness or called for revenge on those who had destroyed the lives of so many fellow South Africans.
But, when Madiba had his enemies at his feet, instead of smiting them he embraced them. Can any person show greater love to his fellow human beings?