Madiba is dead: The passing of the ‘father of the nation’

| December 6, 2013

In Africa news. Many of us have woken up to the sad news that the much revered champion of freedom of the 20th Century, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela OM AC CC OJ GCStJ QC GCH BR RSO NPK, has died.

The South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela spent the last few weeks in hospital suffering from a lung infection which he succumbed to at 95.

Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela. Photo courtesy www.scenicreflections.com

Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela. Photo courtesy www.scenicreflections.com

Mandela who was credited for  South Africa’s transformation from racial despotism to modern liberal democracy has been widely acknowledged as the man everyone wanted to meet.

Despite a minority of critics who continued to denounce him as a communist and/or terrorist, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he was often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”

The fact that Mandela single handedly saved South Africa from civil unrest is beyond refute as Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If this man wasn’t there, the whole country would have gone up in flames.”

Nelson Mandela’s death  kicks off the start of an elaborate mourning process both in South Africa and abroad. This is likely to cause one of the country’s biggest ever staged events, that of the burial of the beloved father of the Rainbow Nation.

It is widely speculated that Heads of state and dignitaries from around the world including the Caribbean are expected to fly in – among them potentially Barack Obama, the Pope, the Queen, David Cameron, the Dalai Lama and former US president Bill Clinton.

Governments across the Caribbean have expressed their condolences following the news of Mandela’s passing.

Here are a few messages:

JAMAICA:

“The people of Jamaica consider Nelson Mandela to be an honorary citizen of Jamaica. We are grateful that he chose to visit our Island in July 1991.  The love and respect of the people of Jamaica for his lifelong struggle for freedom, dignity and justice are as strong now as they were on that historic visit to our shores.  We grieve together with the people of South Africa and the family of the late President the loss of this giant of our times and this man for all times.”

— Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica

“The entire human race has lost one of the finest mortal beings who ever walked this planet. Nelson Mandela overcame the tyranny of racial oppression to become an apostle for a world where people, irrespective of colour or creed, could dwell together in peace and harmony. He has finally departed our earthly realm, but his memory will endure throughout the ages. We who were privileged to have known Madiba must ensure that his legacy will continue forever to inspire men and women who strive to spread freedom, justice and peace in our single universe.”

— PJ Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA:

“For most leaders across the region, including myself, Nelson Mandela’s life has inspired us to lead lives of service to our people.   In his first speech immediately after getting out of prison, he also said, ‘I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people.’ Those words mean a great deal to me in my everyday work for the people of Antigua and Barbuda. In my estimation, Nelson Mandela’s greatest and most notable achievement was his ability to unite a deeply divided country, a skill which all politicians of today greatly yearn for.”

— Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO:

“He will forever be remembered as a man who fought for freedom and won it for millions around the world. The legacy he has left us is one we shall always celebrate and we shall always thank God for.”

— Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

GUYANA:

“The struggle he led with other distinguished anti-apartheid fighters has entered into the annals of world history as one of the most defining periods in our world. However, it was not only the struggle, but the manner in which it was conducted which will always remain an example and an inspiration for others working for social and economic justice everywhere”.

— Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana

HAITI:

“Mandela is not only the father of Democracy in South Africa, he is the symbol of democracy. And like any symbol, he is not dead. He is present in all of us and guides us by his lifestyle, his courage and faith in the true struggle for gender, racial and national equality.”

— Michel Martelly, President of Haiti. Caribbean tributes courtesy: www.caribjournal.com

It is quite poignant that as MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom is being premiered, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography made into a film, the author dies. It is now widely speculated that lead character, mandela played by East Londoner Idris Elba will be awarded an Oscar Nomination. See trailer here:

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

COMPANION GUIDE TO “LONG WALK TO FREEDOM”

Courtesy www.keepthefaith.co.uk

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