Tuesday, 10 December 2013

SOUTH AFRICA: Paying Tribute to Nelson Mandela

The memorial and funeral of Nelson Mandela is attended by thousands world leaders and statesmen amongst them - and watched by billions. A man who all his life fought for unity, reconciliation, tolerance, has once again at his death united divided religious leaders, politicians, black and white, poor and rich.

Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela Tuesday, in a memorial service celebrating a man seen as a global symbol of reconciliation.
 
In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from President Barack Obama to France's Francois Hollande gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday.
 
Despite the rain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg 's FNB stadium is celebratory, with people dancing, blowing "vuvuzela" plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.
Many carried banners honoring "Madiba," Mandela's traditional clan name, or his picture. Some had skipped work and queued for hours to secure a seat so that they could pay their respects.
 
Nelson Mandela is a hero to millions of us around the world. After 27 years in prison for fighting against the apartheid segregation system in South Africa, he was elected president of the country in 1994 in the first all-race elections. Mandela devoted his life to freedom in South Africa, but he also spoke out against injustice around the world. A hero has left us, but his legacy as a human rights defender lives on.

Mandela had been released from prison in February 1990. Imagine the upheaval in those years. The unshakable had been shaken. The unbreakable had been broken. Those whose power seemed unassailable had been deposed by those who had moments earlier seemed powerless.

Mandela is a symbol of resistance to apartheid. He is a father to his country. But he was also a powerful symbol of the times in which he lived. He was hope incarnate. He was a message to all those brought down by injustice that no matter what the odds, no matter how impossible ultimate victory may seem, not to give up.

Mandela was the avatar of an era that reminded us that history is made by men and women of courage and that it can dismiss in the blinking of an eye all that seems unchanging.

Today, many lament the injustices and grave errors of these times. Growing inequality. Enduring racism. Insensitivity to the frailties of our planet. Oppression of countless groups, simply because of ethnic origin or religious beliefs or because they are women. We are frustrated that our governments seem to have lost their ability to govern. We worry that we are unable to rise to the challenges of our moment.

And so in the death of Mandela comes yet another of his gifts to the world: a reminder not only of what he did but of the stunning changes that swept the world in the time of his triumph. It is a coda to a great life, a reminder to cast aside resignation and defeatism and know that great hearts do exist. And they sometimes do make the impossible happen.

A hero has left us, but his legacy to South Africans, Africans and the world lives on. '' R.I.P. Nelson Mandela''-May Your Soul Rest in Peace''

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analys/ Writer
Investigative Journalist
African Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: AFP-