Death not a time for sor­row

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

It’s not just Africa mourn­ing the death of Nel­son Man­dela. It’s not just South Africa, ei­ther. When I opened my Face­book page af­ter the an­nounce­ment of Man­dela’s death, it was full of tributes from ev­ery cor­ner of the world.

Ghana­ian Pres­i­dent John Dra­mani Ma­hama said: “Nel­son Man­dela served his na­tion and Africa well. We have lost an icon in the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle and an il­lus­tri­ous son of our con­ti­nent.”

To­day, no one had more uni­ver­sal in­flu­ence than Man­dela. His death is a loss for the coun­try and the con­ti­nent, which is why Tan­za­nia an­nounced three days of na­tional mourn­ing with flags at half-mast.

But this is not a mo­ment for sor­row. It is a time to re­mem­ber Man­dela’s in­spi­ra­tional role to his peo­ple and his land.

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment, news­pa­pers didn’t carry head­lines with gloomy words. In­stead, hope­ful words such as “colos­sus”, “re­flec­tion”, “leg­end” and “fu­ture in­spi­ra­tion” were spread across African me­dia plat­forms.

I’m cur­rently not in Jo­han­nes­burg, but I’m still sur­rounded by com­ments and tributes from Kenyans. Apart from his courage to fight for free­dom, Man­dela is also be­ing re­mem­bered for his other virtues.

For Denise Kodhe, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Democ­racy & Lead­er­ship in Africa, which is based in Nairobi, Man­dela was a hum­ble per­son and as nor­mal as any­one around. Those qual­i­ties al­lowed him to get close to peo­ple.

“He was a hum­ble leader who treated oth­ers with re­spect and who was ready and will­ing to serve at what­ever level,” Kodhe said. “I re­mem­ber he even served jour­nal­ists glasses of wa­ter at Jomo Kenyatta In­ter­na­tional Air­port when he stopped over on his way to South Africa from Cairo in the early 1990s.”

Te­bogo Lefifi, man­ager of the China Of­fice of Brand South Africa, said he does not mourn Man­dela’s death.

“To­day, I re­flect on his life and seek my in­ner Man­dela and con­tinue to make each day a Man­dela day to serve hu­man­ity with small acts of self­less virtue,” Lefifi said.

“I will never be treated like a sec­ond-class cit­i­zen be­cause he fought against that, and we will never ad­vo­cate re­verse racism be­cause he ab­horred it.”

But there are se­cu­rity wor­ries in South Africa af­ter Man­dela’s death as ten­sions be­tween dif­fer­ent par­ties have grown and many con­flicts have bro­ken out since last year.

The Chi­nese com­mu­nity there is one of the largest among all African coun­tries, with more than 200,000 Chi­nese liv­ing there. Some ex­pressed con­cerns about their safety.

“We are a bit con­cerned that there have been many crimes th­ese days be­fore Christ­mas, and we are afraid that some bad guys will use Man­dela’s death as an ex­cuse to do ter­ri­ble things,” said Claire Zhang, a 25-yearold work­ing for an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion in Jo­han­nes­burg.

But na­tional se­cu­rity and South Africa’s gov­ern­ment poli­cies will re­main strong enough for the coun­try to face the chal­lenges ahead, said Shen Shaobo, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Shang­hai In­dus­trial and Com­mer­cial As­so­ci­a­tion in South­ern Africa. Con­tact the writer at lil­ianx­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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