The heavens shed a tear for Madiba

Khensani taking a moment of silence for international icon Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium
Khensani taking a moment of silence for international icon Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium

JOHANNESBURG – Thousands braved the weather in song and dance as they celebrated the life of the man they described as their hero, someone they will never forget.

Among those who were present to pay their respects to Madiba was Andrew Mlangeni, the man who spent years with him in prison. Mlangeni among others honoured Madiba for the role he played in fighting Apartheid.

American President Barak Obama told mourners, “The world thanks you for sharing Madiba with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found strength in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.”

While Mandela was remembered as a world leader, he was recognised as a man who had strong core values. An indication that he was always committed to equality was not only expressed in his Rivonia trial speech.

As a prefect at boarding school Mandela writes in his book Long Walk to Freedom, “Part of the duties of being a prefect, I had to look out for boys who relieved themselves along the corridors… One day while I was on duty, I saw boys committing such a crime and when I approached them I noticed they were prefects as well.”

Mandela destroyed the list he had made earlier the evening because he believed, “No one should be above the law.” These core values remained with him as his eyes were opened up when he first came to Johannesburg.

He also refused leadership position if the whole school was not taking part in electing leaders, even when threatened with expulsion; he refused to surrender his point of view. Something most of his former comrades remember him by.

President Jacob Zuma said, “South Africans sing a popular freedom song about former President Nelson Mandela.

“We sing that he is one of a kind, that there is no one quite like him. ‘Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela akekho ofana naye’.”

Zuma described the song as ‘the most accurate descriptions of this global icon’, and South Africa together with the world can concur with the statement made by Zuma. Mandela was the one man who had every reason to retaliate with anger but chose forgiveness.

Obama said, “Madiba disciplined his anger; and channelled his desire to fight into organisation, platforms and strategies for action, so men and women can stand up for their dignity.”

Mandela’s memorial service also marked 20th anniversary from the day he received a Nobel Peace Prize which he shared with former President FW de Klerk.

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