This morning when I woke up, Nelson Mandela was dead. Just so quietly gone…
I remember the vigils everyone had when he was in hospital a couple of months ago. There were candles and prayers and singing. And he went home after weeks in the hospital and everyone sighed a collective sigh of relief.
And now he is really gone. And I’ve been thinking this whole day of the changes he started in our country.
I was raised to have a racist point of view by parents who I loved dearly but who didn’t know better because they were raised by parents who came from parents who were at war with black tribes for survival. And we can all throw many stones but somewhere someone had to say, “the buck stops here. Racism must end”. And that was what Mandela did.
He had every right to be angry, bitter and full of hate to those who imprisoned him. Yet he chose to walk in forgiveness. He lived it everyday. He became for me an example of a person who shows grace and mercy to those who didn’t deserve it. That you can love anyone as your brother and sister, no matter their skin colour.
I looked on after 1994 and waited for him to fall flat on his face as a president. “What would he know about good governance?” was my thought. But he governed well. He rose to the occasion. He didn’t abuse his power to enrich himself. He didn’t abuse his power to put family members in positions of influence. He taught me that a good leader, leads by example. That a good leader walks behind his people to herd them in the right direction, to be there to pick up stragglers. That the people mattered not just an elect few.
I have only known two truly good people to ever live in my lifetime, Mother Teresa and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
He left a legacy of hope to a nation divided. That out of diversity can come unity.
I really hope we live up to it.
Rest in peace Tata Madiba, until we meet again.