ONE Regional Field Director Tzviatko Chiderov reports live from Cape Town, South Africa.
I am currently on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa and I was here when we all heard the news last week. It has been interesting to observe people’s reactions and take part in the city’s celebration of Madiba.
What’s been dominant in all of this is the way people cope with the loss of South Africa’s most inspirational man. It’s not through crying and somber mourning, but through reflection on his great impact, respect for his brave actions and forgiveness, and celebration of his incredible life. You’re more likely to see people dancing and singing than crying – a fitting tribute to Madiba. Here’s a view from the street that I filmed, for example:
Cape Town has a special appreciation for Mandela. It was here that he gave his first speech as a free man in 1990. Now that same square in front of City Hall is the place dedicated to honoring him. Banners drape the balcony where he spoke, people leave flowers and sign condolence books at the front of the building, and crowds gather to sing, dance and take in the feeling of oneness that surrounds everything Mandela.
I attended an interfaith prayer service here on Sunday. It was a powerful experience to see faith leaders from one of the most diverse places in the country come together, clutch hands and pray as one people. Common topics of all speeches were love, compassion, forgiveness – all exemplified to extreme by Mandela. In the crowd you could see people with skins of all shades and seemingly from many different walks of life. A true representation of this rainbow nation, united by the desire to pay respects to the man who made this all possible.
Walking around town, you feel an overwhelming sense of pride, respect and appreciation. Seeing Madiba on posters and signs throughout the city, hearing tributes to his leadership on radio and TV, and overhearing conversations of regular people. The father of this nation is loved beyond what I can imagine, and he will be missed more than I will understand, but there’s one thing I know – his legacy will live on, and his actions will continue to inspire us all.