A year ago today, Nelson Mandela — popularly known by South Africans by his clan name Madiba — passed on. On his first death anniversary the country and the rest of Africa celebrates one of the most Iconic leader ever to come out of the continent.
Until his passing on December 5th 2013 at the age of 95, Mandela had dedicated 67 years of his life to activism for South Africa’s freedom. He spent 29 of those years in prison.
He went on to become the first black president of South Africa in 1994, a few years after being released from prison.
“Nelson Mandela was the greatest — he gave us freedom — he allowed everyone black and white to stand tall in this country,” Charlie Tshabalala, 36, said last year just after Mandela had passed on.
South Africa without Mandela seem to have lost its moral center. In the past year the country has grappled with its most serious wave of wildcat strikes by angry miners that has brought the country’s economic growth to its knees.
The country was in April toppled off the largest economy on the continent position by Nigeria after the west African country rebased.
But that did not deter official commemorations including an inter-faith prayer service, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony by veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle, and a Vuvuzela filled cricket match from taking place.
As the Vuvuzelas beamed across South African plains many other events were taking place or are due to take place over the weekend and beyond. These include artistic performances, remembrance walks and cross country Motorcycle rides.
Bright Colored Blankets
Ahead of the first Mandela anniversary inmates at Zonderwater medium security facility outside Pretoria made brightly colored blankets as part of a charity project for poor communities and to commemorate his death.
Others took to tattooing to ensure that Madiba eked a mark in their lives, literally.
“It’s art and a memory that stays with me forever,” Mpumelelo Masinga, 27, told AFP has he waited in line for his turn to be inked. “One day I’ll explain it to my kids.”
Tribute from South African leaders also came in from all quarters.
Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called on South Africans to emulate Mandela’s example.
“Our obligation to Madiba is to continue to build the society he envisaged, to follow his example,” Tutu said in a statement to mark the anniversary.
“A society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country. In which all can live in dignity, together. A society of better tomorrows for all.”
Mandela’s one-time jailer FW de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mr Mandela in 1993, called on South Africans to honour his legacy.
“This is a day to reflect on the momentous life of Comrade Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who served South Africa, and all humanity, in a way that no one individual has ever done or is ever likely to in the foreseeable future,” Congress of South Africa Trade Unions spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.
“He left it up to us and future generations to continue that struggle to see the promises of the Freedom Charter brought to life.”