Tuesday 17 December 2013

Saying Goodbye to Madiba

It's strange being in a country when you're the foreigner at the best of times. But it's especially strange when the country, as a whole, is going through something very significant.

We arrived from a three month trip to the UK and within a week, Nelson Mandela had died. Though it was long anticipated, the nation went into a measured state of shock as they came to terms with the passing of such an influential and loved figure of this nation. Madiba, as he's affectionately known, is widely loved and, many say, is the reason that peace remained with no uprising or bloodshed following the fall of Apartheid nearly 20 years ago.

At YWAM, our leader has encouraged us - whatever country we come from - to be in touch with the state of the nation and be respectful of those around us who are mourning at this time. We, as a family, have chosen during the commemorative activities to hold back from parties or celebrations, to show respect to those around us. We have also spent time reading the local newspapers and watching the events on TV so that we can 'tune in' to what is being said about this great father-figure, so loved by the South African people.

We went down to the V&A Waterfront last week to pay respects at one of the many posts available to do so. There were many queueing to sign the book of remembrance and laying flowers at his statue which stands next to other Nobel Peace prize winners, Albert Luthuli, former president of the African National Congress, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and the last president of the old South Africa FW de Klerk. It was a sober occasion with many just taking a moment of quiet by his statue to respectfully say good-bye to Tata Madiba.

It is in this light that we have chosen not to enter into discussions on the web and elsewhere about Madiba's salvation, or political activities or anything controversial. Rather, being sensitive to the state of this sometimes fragile nation, pay our own respects to Nelson Mandela. He was, in so many ways, a great man. And though I won't attempt to analyse his own personal faith, I will say one thing: the fruit of what he has achieved, though diligence, discipline, a good work ethic, a listening hear, humility and forgiveness is something that should be greatly admired, and sought after. We have a lot to thank God for, that this man has achieved and we mourn his loss with the beautiful nation of South Africa.

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