The hearts of South Africans ache for the passing of Nelson Mandela, Madiba, our former president who brought about the transformation of a harsh, political-racial environment into the South Africa we so dearly love today. His Long Walk to Freedom leading up to 1994 was indeed challenging and arduous, one in which he himself grew from man into leader, and one in which he grew South Africa from country into nation.
I was not alive when the first democratic elections took place in 1994. I was born in 1996, two years into Mandela's presidency. Many thought our country would become a civil war ground before peace would come, yet no such events occurred. By the year of my birth, South Africa had won the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the wound that had cut so deeply through the souls of South Africans, regardless of race, had begun to heal. Forgiveness and relief permeated through our country.
I don't know what it was like before 1994, not really, though I've grown up with the history of Apartheid as a blaring reminder in my curriculum throughout my school career. However, I know what it has been like afterwards. I know that my best friend is a Mozambican, and that I have grown up without the racial prejudice that held citizens apart in the past. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." This is one of Mandela's most famous quotes. He effectuated a change of dogma and attitude in SA that has ultimately brought together so many good friends, partners and leaders, and for that I thank him bountifully.
I am part of a Youth Orchestra in which the race of our musicians is mixed and varied, yet we still play the same music, still love making music together. Our players of African roots embrace Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, and I can joyously say that I adore the earthy beat of African drums and the happy-snappy tune of Kwela. The different cultures and ethnicities in our country now blend and we grow and celebrate life in our togetherness.
"Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future"
Nelson Mandela was a human being that brought about great love and the fellowship of man, not just in SA but throughout the world. Our country is not perfect -I mean whose is?- but though he is gone we will continue to strive each day for a better and greater South Africa. We are still on a journey of transformation, one which will take a long time, but I hold my truth that I am a South African. I am a South African and I am proud to be part of what Nelson Mandela helped achieve.
I have been watching videos documenting our nation's reaction to his passing. I wish to share with you my favourite words from a young man, probably in his early twenties, who said this heart-warming message, "Madiba will always be Madiba, and wherever he is now, we love him. Thank you"
This is a video I put together for Tata Madiba in gratitude for who he was and what he means to me, to our country, and to the world.
Our national anthem performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. They are excellent.
Thank you, Madiba.
P.S For those of you who wish to know more about Madiba and his journey, this is a link that is quite thourough, yet readable.