Hamba kahle, Madiba

2013-12-06 08:21

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After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. - Nelson Mandela, The Long Walk to Freedom

And after surmounting seemingly impossible heights, Madiba climbed his last hill late on Thursday night at the age of 95. While it was probably a quiet journey, his life was anything but.

As a revolutionary, negotiator, reconciler and father of the nation, his life was watched by millions around the world. And for a myriad of reasons, but mostly as the most revered, admired South African in history.

No one could have known that when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, he would become a global icon of the 20th century.

He meant many things to many people. From a father, to a friend, to a freedom fighter, to a statesman.

His most famous labels as revolutionary, negotiator and reconciler read like a roadmap of a life lived for others.

As a revolutionary, Mandela fought for decades to bring to an end racial segregation, a relic from colonial times - later enforced through legislation by the National Party from 1948.

He was dedicated to overthrowing an inherently unjust system described as a crime against humanity. For these ideals Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

During his long years on Robben Island, Mandela also became a negotiator supreme. On his release in 1990, he took over the leadership of the ANC from Oliver Tambo. His moral weight was the glue that ultimately delivered a negotiated settlement with FW De Klerk's National Party government and paved the way for South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

After taking over as head of state, Mandela set the tone for the "New" South Africa, the rainbow nation, with his inspired policy of national reconciliation.

After his active retirement from politics in 1999, he continued his activism through the Nelson Mandela Foundation and focused especially on the fight against HIV/Aids.

It was said he was married to the struggle - his three marriages hint at this - but ultimately Nelson Mandela was married to justice and freedom.

He could and never would accept the oppression in South Africa. His famous Rivonia trial speech encapsulates this...

"This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

As South Africans, we were lucky to have shared our country for the last century with this great man. He has earned his well-deserved rest. RIP.

- News24 Editorial Team

NEXT ON NEWS24X

RIP Nelson Mandela

2013-12-06 08:36

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