As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela, a global icon, who changed the face of South Africa when many were living in fear, I celebrate the times I was given birth to in a year when he came out with his fist in the air and called on freedom.
The history of South Africa is one that is interesting and colourful. It is one that symbolizes a child’s dream to become a superhero and save the world from the difficulties it was facing and bring hope for a new brighter day. It is a history where the child says to his mother “don’t worry mom, I promise you a world of happiness. I will take care of you from a distance and we will all live happily ever after.”
Born in late 1990, a superhero had already been born out of wedlock between the country and himself. My infant self had no idea what had happened or what will happen. Four years later, I knew Nelson Mandela in the house through the mouths that were speaking about him.
At four years, I was told he is the first black democratically elected president of the nation. It seemed less important to me than going out to play with my friends in the soil. It seemed less important because in my mind I did not imagine that in the pre-freedom world, people were dying.
History was then unveiled to me when it was a compulsory subject in my primary school years. It was interesting and colourful. I learnt about Nelson Mandela, his first wife, second wife and that he spent 27 years in Robben Island. I learnt that while I was learning how to perfect my spellings in pre-school (1995), my parents were celebrating going to the voting polls for the first time in history.
Fast forward, he resigned from the presidency office and observed this colourful nation from a distance without his joyful guidance. As I grew older up to now in my early twenties, Nelson Mandela to me was like a distant relative whom I never made time to meet because of time. He was that superhero I learnt about in the books and cartoon movies.
Somehow I just thought I will meet him when my family goes for some reunion party and he would be there as well. Later on December 5 2013, sad news march into my ears.I didn't know how to feel. It all felt so unreal and thought “I could have made time.”
However, I grew up under his presidency and guidance for a free and just society. I celebrate the times I have spent with him from a distance and having had the opportunity to learn about him. His history is so rich of sad and lonely moments, but at the same time he was always a happy person who touched the lives of many people in the world, and that is the person I grew up knowing in the media.
As Maya Angelou recites, “His day is done,” I am grateful for the many opportunities he birthed into this country. Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s superman and the world’s inspiration, yours was a life full of mystery about the possible change you brought and left behind. Yours was a life full of happiness and love for everyone near and far. Your legacy lives on to be celebrated from generation to generations.
You healed the scar that was big and painful and created a world of beautiful breeze and sunshine. You leave behind footsteps for leaders to step onto and follow suit, and may it be under the presence of your vigilant spirit.
May your soul rest in peace Madiba!
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