Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away at his Houghton home in Johannesburg on Thursday, 5 December 2013 at the age of 95. South Africa’s first black president will always be revered for his anti-Apartheid personal and political sacrifices. But he’ll also be remembered for his wrinkled smile, common touch, humour, and his genuine concern for all humanity. Whether people knew him or not the loss is personal.
Imprisoned for 27 years, he charmed his enemy, inspired children who knew of him only through stories and did what many others couldn’t. He unified a country on the brink of civil war. Arguably the most globally recognised symbol of tolerance Madiba’s wise words and selfless sacrifice are even more relevant now. South Africa must continue to work hard to create an optimistic history to inspire a continent and generations to come. There is much to do still.
Back in Qunu, his home village, in the Eastern Cape locals are preparing for his final return. He’ll be buried at a family gravesite, which overlooks an aloe field. The mood is quiet. Old men discuss their hero with bowed heads and in hushed tones. This is in stark contrast to the public emotion expressed throughout the rest of the country.
We knew this time was coming. Yet, practically all South Africans and many others in the rest of the world hoped that he would live forever, or at least for a few more years. Such was the myth of this giant man.
Mandela once said, “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and to his country, he can rest in peace.” Thank you, Hamba Kahle (goodbye) and rest in peace Tata Madiba.