It was on Christmas day when I met Tata in 1998,at his house in Qunu Village.He had some special celebration going on for all the kids in the village. I was 8 yrs old. I was wearing a red dress with white dots, that my late great grandmother had bought for me 3 days before the big day of meeting Tata. it was my first time ever meeting him. He approached me with a smile, He shook my hand and asked my name. I smiled and said I'm Lerato. He told me I have a beautiful smile,gave me a toy and I said thank you Tat'Mkhulu. Before I left my house, my late great grandmother told me to call him Tat'Mkhulu because that's what he was to all the kids in the village. To me he came across as great man. You could sense the love and care he has for kids through his smile. I was honored to meet this icon. One thing I can tell you there's was no way you could leave him without feeling special. His humility and love felt like a warm blanket. He loved the kids and we loved him.
I'm a sport fanatic,I live sport and as an aspiring sport journalist my favourite quote by him is "Sport has the power to change the world,it has the power to unite in a way that little else does,it speaks to the youth in a language they understand,it creates hope where once there was only despair". Beautiful and true words.
When I heard about his passing, I couldn't believe it at first. I didn't want to be true, I felt like we weren't prepared for it. This special man died on my special day,on my birthday. The nation is deeply saddened by his departure. But again I'm truly honored to know that from now on, the 5th of december,the day I was born will never be the same again. It Will have a historical meaning and what a historical meaning it will be. I will not only be celebrating my birthday but also a hero who has left us unexpectedly.
Christmas will never be the same again without him. Especially for the kids who loved spending it with him. I'm grateful I've had the opportunity and will cherish it for the rest of my life. He may be gone but his legacy lives on. We have lost a dearest father.
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