Good bye Tata, from the Rainbow Nation

Thank you Madiba – your magic will forever be among us all. This was a common sentiment as people mourned the passing of a legend.

South Africans lost their father and the world lost an icon when Nelson Mandela – Madiba, Tata – died at 8.50pm on 5 December at home in Houghton. It has brought tears, but also a celebration of his life not just to his family and friends, but to the world.

Born 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, a small village in the Eastern Cape, Mandela was the country’s first black president. But he was more than that: he was a world statesman and a universal symbol of peace, unity, forgiveness and ubuntu. Tributes continue to pour out for the father of the Rainbow Nation.

Bernard Fingwana says: “I am happy the man has finally reached the end of his journey and I thank him for all he has done, for not just us but the whole world.” He leaves a legacy that has changed the lives of many people throughout the world, but above all he has left everyone with the hope of a loving home for all.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear,” Mandela said. His words inspired many people and changed their ways of thinking.

NM-Phillipa-Tshibitso-“I feel very hurt knowing that he is gone,” says Phillipa TshabitsoPhillipa Tshibitso says: “I feel very hurt knowing that he is gone. I would like to say to all South Africans that, ‘Please we must all walk in his path.’ I would love to say to his family that we are crying with them.”

Mandela’s message is universal: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” he said in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.

“We love you Tata and you will always be a part of everyone’s life. The nation will take all that you have done for us and keep moving towards building a world filled with peace, love and happiness… we are with his family, because Nelson Mandela is our freedom. We will pray with you and not for you,” says Mpilo Masokela.

Again, Mandela’s words are inspirational: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Weeping, Caroline Nkamboyi says: “I did not want to believe that he was gone and as soon as I accepted it I became sad. What I would love to say to his family is that they must accept it because we are here for them too.”

And his legacy lives on, urging ordinary people to do the extraordinary: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation,” he said. “We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.”

NM-Selina-Dekeledi“He brought freedom into every South African’s life,” says Selina Dikeledi (Images: Bhekumuzi Madakane)Bhekumuzi MadakaneSelina Dikeledi Kitsaweng says: “It all came as a sudden shock. He brought freedom into every South African’s life. I am where I am today because of him. Tata wherever you are, thank you for everything. In a way you brought me up too, so thank you.”

Forever he will be missed, and the words “we love you Tata” are being heard loud and clear across the world. “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead,” he said. “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my destiny.”

Gone but never forgotten, Madiba will live on in our hearts, his humility and humanity something which we can all strive to emulate. “When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?” he asked.

South Africans – indeed all people – can follow his lead, working for others through his foundation, 46664, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and giving of their time on Nelson Mandela International Day, and every day.

But now, to the father of the nation, it is time to say goodbye. Hamba Kahle, Tata.