Today, I feel it is my duty as a South African, as a child born into the democratic South Africa and thus deemed ‘Born-Free’ and mainly as a human being to bid farewell to a formidable soul, Mr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I could go about giving you a lesson on South Africa history as it was drummed into us at school level. Empty words like ‘freedom fighter’, ‘hero’ and ‘son of the soil’ where thrown at us and we never truly understood what they meant, but we just studied it to gain those extra marks in the exam.
I can go back to 2 or 3 years ago where I went along with my father to the airport, where I ran off to a book shop and my father handed me this rather large book ‘The Long Walk to Freedom.’. At that time, as a 16 year old teenager, South African history felt like somewhat of a bore to me and I could never understand my fathers intense fascination with this former president.
But after being thrown into the real world this year, attending university in a free South Africa, I could see the resonance of apartheid among the people in my class. Some of rather disadvantaged backgrounds, others from the complete opposite and others there because of the quota system implemented to redress the wrongs of the past. And I do understand that I may be affected by these quota’s negatively in my life but it makes me ponder on the fact:
‘What if Nelson Mandela decided at one stage in this fight of freedom that it was enough? Where would I be now?’
The truth is I may never have existed at all. My parents being of two different race groups in the South Africa definition, I am a ‘coloured’ child, being that my father is Indian and my mother is mixed raced could never marry under apartheid rule. So to a certain extent, I owe Nelson Mandela and these freedom fighters my existence.
Well, I am side tracking a bit but yes. As a teenager, I never understood it, but as a read more and saw more and just felt this pulse of South Africa, I understood the suffering, the pain and the sigh of relief the people of South Africa felt in 1994. I can never say that I can sympathize with the people who lived throughout the struggle but I can truly empathize. My words are, the only way I can describe my words are by the use of an Afrikaans poem I had learned in my final matric year at school, Woorde by Vincent Olifant:
my woorde het nie die krag
om bose magte tot ‘n val te bring nie
my woorde kan bloot sing
my woorde is nie ‘n dak
om onder te skuil nie
my woorde is swak
my woorde kan nie keer
dat ons die kromme note haal nie
my woorde is kaal
Which basically translates to the fact that my words are weak and they have no power, they are naked. In that sense, my words could never put to page the true meaning of this mans existence to my country and it’s people. He is a true inspiration, a great soul and someone worth calling a role model. A person who truly was the epitome of the world ‘selfless’.
I felt truly inspired by Helen Zilla, the leader of the opposition party, The Democratic alliance, when she said today:
"We all belong to the South African family – and we owe that sense of belonging to Madiba. That is his legacy. It is why there is an unparalleled outpouring of national grief at his passing. It is commensurate with the contribution he made to our country.
"Through his humility, moral conviction and bold leadership, Madiba gave us a gift for which we, and successive generations will be forever grateful. He gave us his vision of a free and inclusive South Africa and the unwavering belief that such a society could be achieved in his lifetime.
"He was, quite simply, the greatest South African that ever lived. We shall never see his like again. Let all South Africans join hands as we mourn Madiba’s passing and celebrate his life. Let us re-affirm his values and recapture his spirit in all we do,"
With that, I would like to say, farewell, Tata, may your soul truly rest in peace, you will be missed dearly and you will forever live in our hearts.
Gotta love it!