Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The World Mourns an Icon

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela

As the news broke, in the late hours of 5 December 2013, that Nelson Mandela had passed away, a collective sense of grief descended on both the country and in fact, the whole world.
Nelson Mandela has been revered as the Father of our democracy and is affectionately known as “Tata” (Father in the ixhosa language) by most South Africans. He single-handedly embodied all that was good about our peaceful transition from apartheid to a fledgling democracy. For one who spent 27 years in jail he emerged incomprehensibly without hate or bitterness and started the process where the nation could heal itself through the first democratic elections to the Truth and Reconciliation process.

The days following his passing have been marked with an uncontrollable outpouring of love. Citizens from all walks of life, young and old, black and white have been united in their sadness and willingness to celebrate his life and what he personally sacrificed for his beliefs and our country.

Since Thursday night citizens have been holding vigil outside his Houghton home in Johannesburg, laying flowers, lighting candles, saying prayers and paying their respect.

Around the country, this coming week is dedicated to a celebration of his life. In Johannesburg a commemoratory service is to be held at the FNB Stadium. The service is to be attended by many heads of states, politicians, royalty and many well-known personalities as well as regular citizens from all walks of life. Mandela's body will lie in state in a glass coffin at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday until Friday, and his coffin will be delivered each day from the nearby 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, Pretoria.

In Cape Town a memorial service and musical celebration will be held at the Cape Town Stadium with free entrance and free public transport to all. The last few nights we have seen his image projected onto Table Mountain.

The final state funeral will be held on Sunday in Qunu, his home town in Eastern Cape, where he will be laid to rest.

My question is “What does this mean for us as South Africans?” Personally I mourn his passing. I was lucky enough to have met Nelson Mandela, and while I did not know him personally, his death still affects me deeply. My hope is that we, as citizens of the world, take the lessons we have learnt from this great leader and apply them to our daily lives both as individuals and as collective organisations.

“Nelson Mandela believed in harnessing the power of the collective to bring about change. Nelson Mandela has left us a legacy that will forever inspire the generations to come. He embodied all of humanity’s hopes and dreams. He saw what was possible before others could fully comprehend that one day South Africa would take a leap from being a pariah state and become a beacon of hope.” - Ellis Mnyandu

RIP Nelson Mandela

Robin Mcleod

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