South Africa have let go of their father. The former president died last night following months of ill health and years away from the public limelight. He’d been suffering from a recurring lung illness. The health of Mandela had deteriorated recently, becoming critical earlier in the year. The announcement of his passing was made shortly before 22:00 GMT by current South African President, Jacob Zuma.
The South African people have warmed to Mandela like a part of a family given the dedication and passion he projected to create an equal 20th Century South Africa. For much of his life he was surrounded by controversy. He was denounced by right-wing critics to be a terrorist and communist sympathiser, but despite this he still brought about a cultural change to South Africa and the world, challenging institutionalised racism, bringing an end to the Apartheid.
Twenty Seven years in jail for the man who attempted to sabotage and overthrow the South African government in the 1960’s, his trial was the beginning of what became an internationally acclaimed political legacy. As international countries called for his release and those who were jailed alongside him, when he was released in 1990 he became the African National Congress (ANC) President. He was voted as president and led the path for multi-racial elections. Not agreeing to take up a second term, Mandela became an Elder Statesman and focussed on charitable work in tackling world poverty and HIV/Aids.
There hasn’t been a person on social media who hasn’t paid tribute to the battles that Mandela has fought. An incredible show of warmth and love for a man who did good for a nation and the world. Flags around the world fly at half mast, whilst global leaders and heads of state, including HM The Queen, have paid emotional tributes to the most respected statesman there has been.
The death of the 95 year old is tinged with sadness amongst the overwhelming celebration of his life; his two youngest daughters learnt of the death during a premiere of a film that marked the life of their father. His final struggles had been so closely documented by the world’s media but there have been incredible signs of courage and strength during the difficult time. There is no other person who comes close to leaving a legacy like Nelson Mandela, a man who has evidently been categorically respected and well loved.
A Nobel Peace Prize winner, amongst 250 other awards, Mandela was and still will be held in the highest respect within South Africa and around the globe. A humble yet powerful and persuasive man, he will always be known as the father of the nation.