This morning we awake to hear the news that the world has lost a truly great leader and a wonderful human being. Nelson Mandela has died in Johannesburg at the age of 95.
He lived to see his hopes and dreams of a South Africa free of apartheid finally realised in 1994 when he was finally elected president. After 27 years of what can only be described as ‘wrongful imprisonment’ convicted for leading a righteous campaign for racial equality, he emerged to lead the new rainbow nation, free of any bitterness, with complete dignity.
When I was growing up in the sixties, I remember seeing, on TV news, the many riots in the Soweto townships in which the black majority railed against the apartheid government of the day. Eventually, the protests resulted in the imprisonment of black leaders including Nelson Mandela. I can remember various international sanctions against the country, including the sports and entertainment bans that at the time, all seemed futile.
But somehow, a miracle happened in that country as the tide eventually turned and oppressed people together with the ruling white class rallied around the figurehead of Nelson Mandela following release from his long period of imprisonment. With no trace of bitterness in his heart, he inspired not only the nation but the world, and a new South Africa was born. For some reason, I cannot listen to this anthem without it bringing a tear to my eye. It is a wonderful emblem of the new rainbow nation and I believe it reflects something of those trials, tribulations and ultimate triumph of right over wrong.
When The Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, there was a moment that I will always remember when Nelson Mandela wearing a Springbok shirt turned to reveal the number of the white captain François Pienaar on his back. There was no possible way that the All Blacks were going to win that day, despite the presence of the apparently unstoppable Jonah Lomu, when the whole world (except New Zealand, naturally) was willing the Springboks to succeed.
Source: Nelson Mandela, My Inspiration
The above rendition of the South African National Anthem, by the Soweto Gospel Choir, is one of the most inspirational songs I have ever heard. The anthem of the rainbow nation is sung in five different languages with the last verse sung in English.
Goodbye Madiba! I hope to meet you one day.