07/18/2013 05:04 EDT | Updated 09/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Nelson Mandela 'the icon of all icons,' British MP says

As the world prepares to mark Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday, one British MP calls the former South African president a "colossus in the world."

Born in South Africa and raised in the U.K., Peter Hain was an anti-apartheid activist during the 1960s, and famously spearheaded efforts to stop all-white South African rugby teams from touring in 1969 and 1970.

In an interview with the CBC's Susan Ormiston, Hain reflects on the qualities that make Mandela such an historic figure. After spending 27 years in jail as a political prisoner, Mandela "came out, not wanting revenge, but seeking reconciliation and preaching healing of a bitterly divided country," says Hain.

Without Mandela, says Hain, South Africa "would have toppled into civil war."