Great sadness still fills our household as the days go by and your legacy will live within us forever. My condolences to Tata Madiba’s Family and to all South Africans. Tata, our beloved icon, who united the once fragmented nation and made us realise that through reconciliation, love and peace we can all share a common purpose in our lifetime. I had the opportunity to meet our great father of the nation on 3 occasions. These were the greatest moments in my life. I was touched by his humbleness and humility and his sense of humour. Mandela is a great supporter and unifier of non-racial sport in South Africa. He was instrumental in our acceptance to international sport. The few words we shared during our meetings surprised me of the immense knowledge he had of sport and joked that he had no time to run the Comrades Marathon, but will do so someday.
Having revered Madiba during his years in prison, gave me goose bumps and moist eyes when shaking the hands of a legend. Those who have met him will share this sentiment and will be mesmerised by the aura he possesses. One becomes speechless in his company. Mandela’s attendance to sporting events must be seen against the backdrop of the most influential unifying catalyst of a single rainbow nation.
In 1996, when I first met our beloved icon at the IAAF world X-country Championship in Stellenbosch, before he could meet the dignitaries, he first shook hands with the security personnel and waiters and found out how they were and where they stayed and then made his way to meet the officials. Does this not signify the humility and humbleness of such an extraordinary Madiba? The only lesson I could personally carry into my life is to take as many leaves out of his book and to continue in his legacy. Mandela’s parting must be seen as a celebration of our world producing one of the greatest souls passing through this earth.
It is hoped that our future leaders would place the interest of our country and its people well above their self-interests. It is as if I feel duty bound that the memory of Tata will be cherished by my future generations. I am lucky to live in your lifetime.
Hamba Kahle Madiba uQhawe IamaQhawe
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