For years we have dreaded this moment. Nelson Mandela is dead, long live Nelson Mandela…
For months this year while I was in Europe I feared that Madiba would pass away while I was outside of the country and I would not be able to mourn with my people. Now the day has arrived.
I sat in front of my computer reading tributes and tweets this morning, tears rolling down my face. I cried in the shower and I cried on my way to AfrikaBurn’s office. I told Liz that I might be being a bit dramatic, but her revelation that it is just an expression of honour, a tribute of respect made sense.
I put some local music on my phone and climbed into a taxi. I walked around town watching people. I bought a beautiful badge of Madiba’s face (wanted to buy one months ago but the Chinese shop only sold them in packs of 8, and I did not need eight…) and I smiled at everyone. There was a feeling of understanding.
I had conversations with people, all sorts of people. The Indian man who was looking through a box of second hand hats with me outside St George’s Cathedral expressed concern that I was ripped off with the price of the badge. He thought that people should leave food, rather than flowers as a tribute… Then people who are hungry can take it, the flowers will just die.
The black kid who sold me water on Adderley Street spoke to me about how we are all of this earth and we will go back to be a part of this earth. We agreed that we wish Zuma and other current leaders would follow the examples that Mandela set, and not just talk about them. His friend pointed at my badge and said, “you’ve got Nelson”. Yes I said, close to my heart.
At the civic center I was interviewed for e.tv news, and in my best Afrikaans I told the guy how I feel a sense of unity today. Madiba wanted to teach us that we are all the same, all one, and today I felt it everywhere.
Next to me a guy started to tell me that we need to do a physical Long Walk to Freedom. Maybe from KZN (“cause I’m from Maritzburg”) to where he was arrested. I think that is a great idea. From what I have heard and observed about the Camino Pilgrimage it encourages dialogue between people who walk together. Maybe that is what we need, if South Africans of all sizes, shapes and shades walked together for days, weeks, we will start to have conversations and we will start to see our similarities, instead of our differences.
It has been amazing getting messages and encouragement from friends all over the world, because they know what he meant to me, to all of us. I like to think I have a special place for him and he is ‘mine’ in a sense, but that was his magic, I think that we can all feel like that…
I am happy that he is finally resting and Tata Madiba I will carry you and your spirit in my heart for ever. I am proud to be of this place, that produced you…
Lala ngoxolo Tata. Asoze sikulibale.