His courage will live on

6 Dec

Mandela fist

A Tribute by Sani Dowa

When I heard the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing this morning, I was struck by how personal it felt. I was reminded of a childhood in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia); of being at the receiving end of a racially segregated society; and following Nelson Mandela’s story with hope and fascination.

In African culture death is always accompanied by much sadness and mourning not just by the immediate family but by the wider community. Yet this morning, the tears that filled my eyes were of pride; not sadness. The lump in my throat was not anxiety but rather an overwhelming sense of being in a moment that will define my own life in ways I cannot yet comprehend.

As my Facebook page lit up with tributes from all corners of the world I could sense a collective gratitude to this truly inspirational son of Africa. There was a sense of awe from many of my generation who experienced and benefitted from the shattering of racial oppression. We’re keenly aware that our freedom came at the cost of leaders like Mandela who gave up so much yet never complained or saw it that way themselves.

In this moment I’m reminded of Nelson Mandela’s words: “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances”. I ask myself what I, as an ordinary African, can do to help change the world for future generations of African children. That’s the legacy Nelson Mandela leaves for us…he made us all want to reach within and find our best selves.

Hamba kahle Madiba! Go in peace Madiba!

___________________________

This article first appeared in Plan Australia’s blog http://www.plan.org.au

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