I have never been close enough to Madiba to meet him but have listened to him speak in person and have enjoyed the moments that made me as a conservative, 68 year old white Afrikaner male a complete supporter of the greatest statesman this country has ever had.
I am sad that I once, in the eighties, wrote on a poster stating: "release Mandela" the words "so that we can kill him". I stocked food up in 1993 and 1994 with the hysteria sweeping many white people up into withdrawing into a mini laagers in anticipation of the bloodbath expected in a night of long knives. That this never happened caused my Damascus experience turning me iinto a firm believer that our duty as all South Africans is to make the rainbow nation a reality. The sadness that this is slow in happening, was only caused by the fact that Mandela's successors does not have the statemanship and abilities to bring his vision for our country to fruition.
Another one of the experiences which changed my life was when I was a electoral officer at the polling station at Burford in a black trust area near Ladysmith. The happiness of the voters; assisting aged people wheeled in wheel-barrows to the polling station to cast their votes; to marvel at the respect I was treated and the realisation that I was seeing history being made.
That makes it two reasons for my being sad today: The loss of this great man and the fact that his dream for this great country is grinding to a inexorable close because of shortsightedness and greed; of an unwillingness to contribute to the creation of the country he dreamed of en believed in and the slow reversion into racial and cultural prisons.
The greatest gift our country can give this man of men, is to work to make his dream a reality once more.
Dion Roeder, Ladysmith
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