Remembering Nelson Mandela through reflection, prayer

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Today has been declared a day of reflection and a day of prayer in South Africa, following the death of our greatest hero, Nelson Mandela. Madiba passed away peacefully on Thursday evening. Since the news broke, there have been tributes, messages of support, gratitude and condolences  for Madiba and his family. And what amazes me the most is that it hasn’t just been limited to South Africa. This is arguably the biggest story in the world right now with newspapers and TV stations running stories on Mandela, his life and legacy. We’ve also seen places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York been lit up in the colours of the South African flag, in honour and respect of Nelson Mandela. As I type this, my heart is sore and the lump in my throat is real, but I also celebrate this global icon and the selfless bravery he dedicated his life to.

This is a day of reflection and the one thing that keeps popping up in my head is this ideal of a rainbow nation and national unity. I’m 29 years old and I was very young when the turn of democracy entered South Africa. I didn’t understand what it meant, or how important this moment was in our history, but one year later we celebrated our second national success… The rugby World Cup win. Nelson Mandela put on the number six Springbok jersey, walked onto the rugby field at Ellis Park and handed over the trophy to winning captain, Francois Pienaar. The nation went mad with excitement. Black, white, colored, Indian, it didn’t matter… Everyone was united, happy and celebrating. I remember driving around the streets of Johannesburg and seeing how excited people were. It was a significant moment for us and one that will always been treasured. Our young democracy could’ve turned ugly, but instead a jovial, celebratory and this idea of “South Africa – alive with possibility” was born. We thank Tata for that.

The next moment I recall being significant is the FIFA World Cup. From the moment we found out that it would be held in South Africa, to the weeks and days leading up to this spectacle, I remember how despite many international press outlets saying we weren’t ready, we showed them just how ready we were. The nation’s pride was at an all time high, the country looked amazing with our stadia being ready. The Gautrain began operating and all in all we had a lot to be proud of. Madiba was expected to be at the opening ceremony, but his granddaughter was sadly killed in a car accident the night before kickoff and that meant his family were absent, understandably so. I speak for many when I say this, but a lot of this would not have been possible had it not been for Mandela and his fellow struggle peers. I think while the ceremony went off without a hitch, many of us would’ve spared a thought for Madiba and given thanks to him in our own special way. One month later, the final was set to take place at Soccer City. There was a lot of speculation that Madiba would be at the final, and that he was. He, together with his wife Graça Machel, made his way onto the field.

He smiled, he waved and in his own way he blessed this global audience with his presence. It was the perfect climax to this amazing period. I remember crying like a baby with my friends because this honestly was one of the most magical moments of my life. You might not understand why, but for me, as a South African, this man; the father of our nation, gave us the opportunity to experience moments like this. Again, we thank Tata for this.

The last month in South Africa has been a challenging one. The whole Nkandla issue has left many of us feeling quite negative towards our president. The very bitter and contentious and controversial etolls have also been met with a lot of negative sentiments. The gantries went live this week and a lot of us were feeling angry at the state and Sanral. It united us in a different way, as we stood firm against the etolls and how the process was rolled out. We lost that battle, but we won in unity and a lot of those principals we owe to Tata. I think when our country gets to a point where things are very intense and things don’t look so good, there’s always some turning point that steers us in a unified, positive direction. Things could go so wrong and yet there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not naive and I know there are issues pertaining to poverty, HIV/ Aids and other social issues and crime is prevalent in our society, but a lot of us are working towards building a better country for all, thanks to the reconciliation principals of our greatest hero, Nelson Mandela. United in life and still uniting in death. Ngiyabonga, Tata.

Statement by Zelda La Grange

STATEMENT BY ZELDA LA GRANGE ON THE PASSING OF MR NELSON MANDELA

My sincere condolences to Mrs Graça Machel (Mum), Maki, Zeni, Zindzi, Josina, Malenga and the entire Mandela family as well as everyone who feels a sense of loss this morning.

Nelson Mandela inspired people to forgive, to reconcile, to care, to be selfless, to be tolerant, to maintain dignity no matter what the circumstances. I can attest to each of these because these are the ways in which he changed my life over the past 19 years. I am blessed and honoured by the privilege to have had the opportunity to serve him.

I often battled with the relentless pressure. But then I looked to him who carried himself with such grace and energy. I never left, I never could. Nelson Mandela did not demand loyalty, but he inspired profound and unwavering loyalty from everybody whose life he touched.

And now, as we grieve the departure of Madiba I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will never see him again. But heroes never die. As sad as it makes me that I will never walk into a room again and see his generous infectious smile or hear him say “Oh Zeldina, you are here” I have come to terms with the fact that Madiba’s legacy is not dependent on his presence.

His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country but particularly how we relate to one-another.

Madiba will forever be present in my life because he made me into the human being I am today. I will cherish every smile, the pleasant but also the difficult times and especially my barefoot moments. Thank you for all the wonderful opportunities you afforded me, but most of all thank you for believing in me Khulu, making me a better person, a better South African.

Tot weersiens Khulu!! Will love you every day for the rest of my life.

ENDS

RIP Nelson Mandela

Matthew Willman 008

At around 20:50 on Thursday, 5 December 2013, former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela died. He was 95 years old.

I can’t actually describe how I’m feeling. I’ve never met Madiba, but I’ve had the privilege of being in the same space as him on numerous occasions. One, for his birthday, another for the announcement of Mandela Day and I am eternally grateful for just those very special moments. He was a man bigger than life itself; a selfless, brave, compassionate, charming, intelligent man; who became the father of our nation and hero to the world.

May he finally rest in peace.
We love you, Tata. We thank you, Tata but most of all we will miss you Tata.  Condolences go out to the Mandela family during this time. We are here with you!

Celebrate being South African and the World Cup’s legacy

Honestly, one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life happened exactly one year ago. In the video above you will myself and fellow Jozi residents in the streets of Sandton, South Africa as we await the Bafana Bafana team ahead of the FIFA World Cup. To be in that space was incredible and the tone was set right from that moment. Pessimists were kept at bay and we as South Africans opened up our doors, our hearts and we welcomed to the world to our country. In the video below you will see some of the highlights from the FIFA World Cup Celebration Concert, in which the likes of Shakira, Freshlyground, K’Naan, John Legend, Alicia Keys, BLK JKS and many many more performed on stage in Soweto.

So what do you remember and miss? I miss:

– The vuvuzela

Soccer City

Waka Waka-ing with Shakira and Freshlyground

Waving My Flag with K’Naan

– Phillip… I honourary name for Feel it… It Is here

– That little annoying Kenako kid LOL

– I miss mocking Diego Forlán for causing misery for not only us South Africans but for other nations he and his fellow Uruguayan players played in the world cup. Having said that, he was one of the best players admittedly.

– I miss Hup Holland Hup

– I miss wearing my Bafana Bafana and Ghanian jersey, an American flag, a Dutchscarf all during the period of the world cup.

– Seeing former President Nelson Mandela coming onto the field at the closing ceremony with his wife Graça Machel. For him to be there and give his blessing (so to speak) was just the most incredible moment to witness. I cried like a baby and I am not ashamed to admit that. It’s because of him that this was even possible I believe. It was also a difficult time for the Mandela family as they were mourning the loss of 13-year-old Zenani, who was killed in a car accident the night of the Kick-Off Celebration concert.

Most importantly I miss that sense of pride and happiness we all experienced during that time. For those 6 weeks we were one. We were proud of how far we have come as a nation, not only in terms of the infrastructure that was built for the world cup, but in terms of our history and how much we have achieved in the 16 years since we became a democracy. The newspapers, news channels on TV and radio led with feel-good stories and not the negative press we’ve come to expect. The FIFA World Cup gave us beautiful stadiums, the Gautrain and a one-way ticket to greatness! Now as we build up to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, go forth and wear your rugby jerseys. Show your support for the team and remember how great we really are! I’m preaching but it’s true!