A life-changing moment when the father of the nation visited the newsroom at the Pretoria News and took time to shake hands with each of us. His boxer hands were huge and warm and his eyes were so very kind.
In the days immediately preceding his visit he stood in the Pretoria High Court where the powerful national rugby union was questioning whether President Mandela “applied his mind” to a decision to institute a Commission of Inquiry into their affairs. I was a reporter in that courtroom. As he took the stand the judge asked him to be seated and the president said that he had stood in that court before and would stand until the questioning was over. It lasted the better part of two days.
What impressed me most was that at every break he would come to the gallery and greet the people. Madiba’s love for us overflowed as he touched as many hands as he could. It did not matter what our color was or how we were dressed or what our purpose was for being there. His great big heart was open to all – even to a young white reporter.
His courage, strength, grace, kindness, and mercy touched me deeply and I am so grateful for his example. I’m sure many more had far more profound interactions with Madiba, but for me those two brief encounters encouraged me to step out and step up and act on my dreams for a just and peaceful world.
You are loved, Mr. Mandela, and you will be missed.
In the beautiful words of Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba:
“Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world,
in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you.
“Go home Madiba,Â you have selflessly done all that is
good, noble and honourable for Godâ€™s people.
“We will continue where you have left off,
the Lord being our helper.”