Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president died on Thursday 5 December 2013 at his home in Sandton at age 95. This great figure and struggle hero passed on peacefully in the company of his family after a prolonged recurring lung infection.
The news was announced to the country by the current president, Jacob Zuma, who in a sombre televised address said Mandela had “departed” around 8.50pm local time and was at peace.
“This is the moment of our deepest sorrow,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son … What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
“Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell.” Zuma further announced that Mandela would receive a state funeral and ordered that flags fly at half-mast.
Born on 18 July 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo in Transkei, Mandela rose from this humbled background to challenge the apartheid government and was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He emerged from this jail-term to lead South Africa from the struggle of apartheid to democracy. A struggle that gave the nation one of its respected and loved heroes.
This earned him a Noble peace prize in 1993. He was inaugurated as president in May 1994 and stepped down from the presidency in June 1999. Even after stepping down as president he continued to speak up against poverty and to lend support to various causes such as AIDS.
In his last address to parliament in 2004 Mandela said “We should take heart from our own experience and performance. In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many.”
Through him we have indeed become an inspiration to many. We have lost a selfless, loving and peaceful man, we have lost an icon and a father but we thank him for the legacy he has left us.
Rest in peace Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.