South Africa: Troubled South Africa reflects on Mandela's legacy (Feature by Craig Urquhart, PANA correspondent)

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – A year has passed since the death of prisoner-turned-world-statesman Nelson Mandela and South Africa is still trying to come to terms with its loss.

This was evident by the outpouring of public support on Friday, exactly a year after Mandela died peacefully at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95.

At 10 am around the country, bells chimed, motorists sounded their horns and pedestrians blew vuvuzelas and other musical instruments. This was followed by a three-minute period of silence when South Africans reflected on Mandela’s extraordinary legacy.

The official commemorations included an interfaith prayer service followed by a wreath-laying ceremony by anti-apartheid struggle veterans in Pretoria.

Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa, who addressed the service, called on the public to keep Mandela's legacy alive by living his values.

“All South Africans are urged to play their part in moving South Africa forward as part of efforts to build a better South Africa, in a better Africa, in a better world, and in memory of this icon of our people,” said Ramaphosa.

Fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called the public to emulate Mandela's example by “building a society founded on human rights, in which all can share in the rich bounty God bestowed on our country”.

And former President F.W. de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993, called on South Africans to honour his legacy.

“Although Nelson Mandela is no longer physically with us, his legacy remains to guide us,” he said in a statement marking the anniversary.

Helen Zille, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, on Friday said South Africans can best remember Mandela by living the values he stood for.

“As we move further away from the life of Nelson Mandela, it is too easy to start remembering him in familiar sound bites - to reduce his image in our minds to a handful of quotes and pictures that have been repeated so often,” she said in a speech at the Cape Town City Hall.
Mandela’s former personal assistant Zelda la Grange has found herself in the international spotlight following the recent publication of her bestseller “Good Morning, Mr Mandela”.

The book, which was published a few months after his death, tells the story of a conservative young Afrikaans typist who worked at the Union Buildings in Pretoria when Mandela befriended her and employed her for 19 years.

She said she had experienced dramatic personal highs and lows since his death and believed the country was still struggling to find its identity: “Mandela was our moral compass. Now we don’t know who we are.”

Certainly, the enormity of Mandela’s passing as well as the legacy he has left behind continues to reverberate around a country that was liberated just four years after his release from prison.

The South Africa of 2014 is a dramatically different nation from the one that was ushered in 20 years ago when Mandela took the oath of office as the first democratically elected leader and declared, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”

While the South Africa of 2014 grapples with major socio-economic problems including corruption, racism, crime and desperate poverty, it remains unshackled by the beast of apartheid and, for that, Nelson Mandela’s legacy is cemented.
-0- PANA CU/MA 6Dec2014

06 december 2014 07:34:13

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