Mourning our Global Icon - Nelson Mandela dies at 95
MunichNOW’s South African reporter reflects on her homeland.
“Never, never and never again… shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” These were the words Nelson Mandela uttered at his memorable inaugural speech in 1994.
My heart is heavy as I write this. I wasn’t ready to hear this news. I knew this day would come but I simply wasn’t ready. Unrealistically, I secretly hoped he would win this battle as he had so many others in his life.
Just a few hours ago, news broke that my personal childhood hero and revered icon of the anti-apartheid struggle, Nelson Mandela, had passed away at the age of 95 at his Johannesburg home, after being in a critical state for more than six months – after suffering a severe lung infection.
The clearly emotional current South African president, Jacob Zuma, broke the news to the media late last night.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” said Zuma.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century, was elected South Africa’s first black president after spending 27 years in prison. He was freed in 1990 to lead the African National Congress (ANC) in negotiations with the white minority rulers which resulted in the first multi-racial elections in 1994.
I was 14 at the time Apartheid was abolished. Had the democracy not taken place I would probably have ended up like all non-white people at the time - oppressed, discriminated against and robbed of our property and education. I got lucky. Mandela changed my life – for the better. I had the opportunity to become educated, to travel, to live abroad and to live my dreams. For that I will forever be grateful.
Mandela is often referred to as Tata Madiba. Tata means Father and Madiba is the Xhosa name of his clan. His extraordinary life story, quirky sense of humour and lack of bitterness towards his former oppressors ensured global appeal for the charismatic leader.
Around 250 South Africans in Munich will mourn the passing of our Nation’s “Father” and celebrate his legacy.