The great man has officially passed the 95 milestone on his long walk to heaven. And if there is such a thing as heaven, Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela will definitely be going there when he leaves the world. I think only the purest of white supremacist racists will dispute that, and even then, there may be some of those who won't.
Having never met the man, but having read up on the histories of my country during the Apartheid era, he is no saint, but he has become an icon of what presidents should be for their country. Sure, he was involved in some hanna-hanna back in the early days, but to my knowledge at least, he was always pro-peace. If you could get your point across without throwing rocks and causing blood to run, then that was the way he wanted to do it. And then he got chucked in chookie for 27 years.
I will always wonder how different the political state of my country would be if he had've been a younger man by the time he was freed. Even though his presidential run was during my primary schooling, looking back as an adult having read about him and listened to the older generations, I think he was a pretty good president, particularly being the first after the NP got given the boot. To have a decent first president after an independence seems quite rare to me, Africa-speaking. The main horrid example being our Northerly neighbour and his 20-something years of derailing his nation. Thank goodness we had Madiba. A man who worked for his country rather than expecting his country to work for him. A pity his successors never got that memo. They preach his name but they just use it as a screen to shield their self-serving arses. Ok, whoosah. Let me stop before I go into a disillusioned rant.
The point of this post is to pay homage to a man whom I think has been one of the best things, if not THE best, to happen to my wonderful South Africa in the last century. He has roads named after him and statues of him standing in many countries outside of his own. The world reveres him and that makes us proud. I think he deserves all the admiration and respect we all have for him. He earned it with action, not just words. He has given us 67 years of true service. I wish more of those had been with him as president. Now I wish everyone would leave him alone to live and die in peace. Doesn't he deserve that too?
I understand that we as a people love him, and the idea of all that he stood for. But to say to him 'We are not ready to let you go', as I have heard many a time in the last month or so, well, that's just not cricket. At this stage in his game I don't think it should matter what we want. He has focused on us for enough of his life. Now it's time for him to have what he wants, and if that means he is ready to let go of his life of hardship and service, then I think we should let him do that with happy hearts that we were lucky enough to have him, and his last days will be peaceful and filled only with family and love, not with pleading, whining people. The idea of Nelson Mandela will not die when he does. That is his legacy to his country and to the world.
My birthday wish for him (for yesterday) is that he will be comfortable and happy, to have all pain and suffering removed so that he can live or die in peace. We love you Tata Madiba.