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Passing of the Great Man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Fortuins In New Zealand

Passing of the Great Man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Born on the continent of Africa where blacks at the height of their potential were wrenched away from loved ones and dehumanised as slaves for 3 centuries was never a great prospect. Yet set to defy history and restore African dignity a black man was born on the southern tip of Africa into a far more sophisticated form of dehumanisation where blacks were officially lesser human beings to be educated only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

Against that backdrop, accused of treason a 45 year old proud African man makes his powerful statement in April 1964 “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” A statement Madiba repeats on the steps of city hall following his release in February 1990.

Today I salute not just our first democratically elected President and Nobel Peace Prize winner but the Father of Justice and Reconciliation. When the world model was Nuremberg Madiba gave us Truth and Reconciliation. When the majority of us clamoured for the dumping of the hated Springbok symbol, Madiba wore it as a statement of Nationbuilding to 50 million South Africans. Under his inspirational leadership we integrated two flags and two anthems and crafted a constitution lauded across the world. Most of all Madiba taught us that South Africa belongs to all its peoples and to reach out to each other. Tata Mandela will always remain our Moral Compass and our Beacon of Hope.

I regret that due to Madiba's incarceration our first embrace was on foreign soil, but will forever treasure the privilege of being His representative and serving “at the president’s pleasure”.

A great man has passed but the Dream of a Better Life for all lives on.

Sleep well Tata Madiba. As we say in Porirua – U R da Man

Respectfully  (Hamba kahle Tata Mandela)

Former Honorary Consul for South Africa (1998-2009)

Gregory Fortuin


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