It’s been a week since Nelson Mandela died and I’m finally ready to put my feelings and memories down in words.
I was in Matric in 1990 when FW de Klerk gave his monumental speech that finally changed the direction of this country, legalizing all formerly banned political parties. I remember our history class all huddled together to watch the speech and our teacher telling us how this was going to change everything we knew until then. We knew we were hovering at the edge of something momentous and I’m grateful to this day for that amazing teacher that explained it to us in such a way that it made sense and filled us with hope.
Fast forward to the release of Mandela and we saw events unfold from there. I was here for the first election in April 1994, but in London during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, dating an Australian (as you do when you’re in London). I missed most of what happened as I was working in the hospitality industry, but I do remember running to and from the lounge and reception areas in the hope of glimpsing some of the final. It was magical, even so far away from home.
Fast forward once again to 1999 when I was working at The Table Bay Hotel and Nelson Mandela came to visit. I remember him walking into the entrance of the hotel and all the staff, myself included, found a reason to linger in the hope of catching a glimpse of him. He walked in, larger than life, said ‘Hello’ in his big booming voice and waved to everyone. His voice was SO loud and clear, it surprised me so much to hear him speak in real life. Right then I understood why he had touched so many peoples lives and many, many more since then.
I hope you tell your own children one day about the legacy of love and forgiveness that this wonderful man has left us, much like you Dad and I are doing.
I hope that you live your lives free of judgement and filled with love.
I hope we are raising people better than ourselves.
I hope that one day, when are you old enough to read this, you will know what Nelson Mandela did for this country and understand the impact of what his example means for each one of us in our own lives and how we interact with others.
We love you very much, stay as awesome as you are.
ps, just for in case you forget, have a look at this: