Friday, December 6, 2013

Nematambudziko. A legend moves on.

Nelson Mandela

It’s not an ordinary day today. We have been bidding farewell to a legend for a while now – but no matter how long we have been doing so – nothing can match the day we have to say the final good bye. Being in South Africa at this point in history – is more than an honour. Never have I felt like everyone is in solidarity, one, living Ubuntu – sharing a history. It’s one of those days people will never forget – “where were you when you heard Tata Madiba died?” Everyone will have an answer – and I am pretty sure most will remember the details, and if that fades – the feeling experienced in that moment never will. 

My news feed is buzzing – TV, radio, twitter, facebook…my mother called all the way from the UK in the middle of the night, we are sharing condolences messages and posting RIP statuses and at work the most poignant and summative statement has been: it’s like we’ve lost a family member. The headlines today speak of a legacy of freedom, and an inheritance of the rebirth of hope, an obscure mirror to the headlines of 1990 when the gates to freedom and new beginnings were opened, and a man who among others inspired forgiveness and reconciliation.This man experiences a new kind of freedom in his death, and there's a hope that the world, though in mourning, embraces the baton that has been passed on.

To be celebrated while you’re living, AND to be mourned with joy when you pass – that is truly an honour I cannot begin to fathom. All I know of Mandela is his story that I have read in his memoires, his (and our) Long Walk to Freedom, the tributes that have been turned into blockbuster movies, the buildings and roads that have been named after him, stories of people from all over the world making it a lifelong goal to have to see and experience the life of Mandela at least once in their lifetimes. But I am one of the millions of people who will forever benefit from the sacrifices he made. I walk around Cape Town, without the discrimination by law because of the colour of my skin. I can go up an elevator, sharing it with people from a myriad of backgrounds because he fought with many others against a system that was broken, a system that bred dysfunction, animosity and was a barrier to the opportunities that lay in embracing and celebrating difference. I have the privilege of living in a new democracy, and there is a man who we know was pivotal to this being the case. Although we are not living in a socio-political and economic ideal, today remains the day we offer thanks, and appreciate a life that was well lived. Good shines above all – and Mandela is testament to that.Mandela fought to free us all.

No matter which part of the world we are in or how prepared we thought we were, we cannot deny that Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela’s death is an unwelcome one. In a world that continues to perpetuate hatred, and forget the wonderful lessons that the old man has taught in his lifetime, we are at a loss and there is an element of fear of what will become of the world now that our living hero has moved on. He has been a light, and we are desperately holding on to make sure the good that he has done does not die with him. If ever there was a man who I would want to live forever – it would be him. Rest in Peace Father of the Nation. You have fought the good fight.

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