A week of national mourning for our hero, Nelson Mandela has come to an end, and what an incredible week it has been. It all started with the magnificent Mandela movie and waking up to the tearful news of Tata’s passing.
A rush of emotions and an information overload encapsulated the days thereafter, with tributes on TV, in the media, in the tribute books across the county and specially on 5fm (leading my father to be the only driver in Nelspruit to hoot and throw his fist in the air during traffic). It was not only a national out pour of mourning, but in fact one on a world wide scale.
Watching the memorial service at the FNB Stadium showed how many world leaders and delegates felt about Mandela’a passing and the extent of the effects which it had. This all lead to my special Madiba moment on Friday. My family and I had an early morning, leaving at 5:30 in the morning to head to the park and ride facilities which were to transport people to the Union Buildings.
After standing in line for about 6 and a half hours with thousands of people from all over the country and the world to no avail, people started to leave the park and ride. As this was taking place, people broke out into song and we were swept up in a crowd whose voices and endurance brought chills to the skin. Once making it through the traffic, we decided to attempt to drive past the Union Buildings. Before we knew it we were being rushed up the steps by police and fortunately had a chance to walk past the casket to pay our final respects.
An sincere and emotional embrace shared with a stranger made the moment all the more real as the tears fell. I have learned more than I could have imagined possible about our beloved Nelson Mandela and will hold his wisdom, memory and legacy in my heart forever, one day passing this on to my children. On Sunday, the funeral was somber and heartwarmingly personal- a send-off of note for a true legend.
Our week ended off at Sun City in the Valley of the Waves where South Africans alike reunited in singing Madiba songs, putting our fists in the air as the lifeguard shouted “awethu!” and singing our national anthem. At Mandela’s Houghton home, police watched as onlookers left flowers which were already meters deep, accompanied by posters, letters and candles. I will always remember these past 10 days and continue to pay my respects at Vilikazi street, by reading the Long Walk to Freedom and hopefully ending in Qunu sometime. Tata, may your beautiful soul rest in peace for all eternity and your precious legacy live on forever. Thank you; hamba kahle.