Death not a time for sorrow
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 firstname.lastname@example.org