Saturday, December 07, 2013

Nelson Mandela -- ‘A Giant Among Men Has Passed Away’

Nelson Mandela |1918-2013

‘A Giant Among Men Has Passed Away’

Death Stirs Sense of Loss Around the World

International New York Times | 6 Nov. 2013

JOHANNESBURG — When Cliff Rosen awoke on Friday to the news that Nelson Mandela had died, he went out to the sunflowers growing in his garden and cut down the tallest one.

JOHANNESBURG — When Cliff Rosen awoke on Friday to the news that Nelson Mandela had died, he went out to the sunflowers growing in his garden and cut down the tallest one. 

“A special flower for a special man,” said Mr. Rosen, a 40-year-old urban farmer, as he wired the towering, six-foot stalk to the fence surrounding the spontaneous memorial that has sprung up just outside the home where Mr. Mandela died Thursday night. “I chose this flower because he towered over us all,” Mr. Rosen said. “Today it feels like the world got a little bit smaller.” 

In the government’s first announcement of a schedule for ceremonies that are likely to draw vast numbers of world dignitaries and less exalted mourners, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday that the former president’s body would lie in state from Dec. 11 to 13 after a memorial at a huge World Cup soccer stadium in Soweto on Dec. 10. He will be buried in his childhood village, Qunu, in the Eastern Cape region, on Dec. 15 after a state funeral, Mr. Zuma said. 

The state funeral will fall on the eve of Dec. 16, one of the most important public holidays in the South African political calendar with heavy historical resonance for blacks and whites. Officially known since 1994 as the Day of Reconciliation, it also marks the founding in 1961 of the Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation, guerrilla army that opposed white rule, and a much earlier victory by Afrikaner forces over a Zulu army in 1838 known as the Battle of Blood River. 

At a service in Cape Town, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself a towering figure in the struggle against apartheid that defined much of Mr. Mandela’s life, expressed the hopes and fears of many of his compatriots when he told congregants at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral early on Friday: “Let us give him the gift of a South Africa united, one.” 

As flags flew at half-staff across South Africa, a sense of loss, blended with memories of inspiration, spread from President Obama in Washington to members of the British royal family and on to those who saw Mr. Mandela as an exemplar of a broader struggle. 

“A giant among men has passed away,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India said. “This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s.” 

As public figures competed for superlatives to describe Mr. Mandela, Prime Minister David Cameron declared in London: “A great light has gone out in the world.” Pope Francis praised “the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa.” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Mr. Mandela was “committed to the end of his days to the ideals of humanism and justice.” 

The French authorities bathed the Eiffel Tower in green, red, yellow and blue lights — the colors of the South African flag.
Speaking in Cape Town after his service in the cathedral, Archbishop Tutu asked rhetorically whether Mr. Mandela was “the exception to prove the rule.” 

“I say no, emphatically,” he said, adding that Mr. Mandela “embodied our hopes and dreams, symbolized our enormous potential.” 

Helen Zille, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said that South Africans owed their sense of belonging to a single family to Mr. Mandela. “That is his legacy,” she said. “It is why there is an unparalleled outpouring of national grief at his passing.” 

The tone of the tributes reflected seemingly universal sentiments crossing racial, national, religious and political lines. In the United States, Republicans and Democrats alike rushed to embrace his legacy. In China, the government hailed him as a liberator from imperialism, even as dissidents embraced him as a symbol of resistance against repression. 

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, accused by the political opposition of heinous crimes in a nearly three-year-old civil war, said Mr. Mandela was "an inspiration in the values of love and human brotherhood," Reuters reported. 

In South Africa, people of all races gathered at Mr. Mandela’s home, laying wreaths, singing freedom songs, whispering prayers and performing the shuffling toyi-toyi dance in his honor. People came together in a way that seems increasingly rare in a nation confronting the everyday worries of a struggling economy, incessant allegations of government corruption and a sinking sense that a nation born two decades ago into such promise is slipping into despair.

“It is one of those days when everyone is united again,” said Reginald Hoskins, who brought his two young children to Mr. Mandela’s house on Friday morning. “That is what Nelson Mandela stood for, and we need to honor that in our lives every day.” 

For those who knew him best, the knowledge that he has gone slowly seeped in. 

“I never thought, knowing him for close to 40 years, that I would ever speak of him in the past tense,” said Tokyo Sexwale, a senior member of the African National Congress who served prison time on Robben Island alongside Mr. Mandela. “The passing of an icon like Nelson Mandela signifies the end of an era.” 

Britons often claim a particular bond among the many Europeans who supported South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, leading efforts to impose an international boycott on South African sports figures and gathering frequently to protest outside the country’s high commission, or embassy, in Trafalgar Square in London. A line formed outside the building on Friday as scores of people waited to sign a condolence book. 

But it was a sometimes ambivalent relationship, with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher displaying an abiding suspicion of Mr. Mandela’s role as a leader in the violent struggle to overthrow white rule. Newer generations had a different view. 

Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, spoke to reporters after attending the premiere of a movie about Mr. Mandela on Thursday, calling him “an extraordinary and inspiring man.” 

The tumult of tributes to Mr. Mandela reflected both his ability after his release from prison in 1990 to reach out to people to forge bonds around the world, and the way in which many leaders and public figures sought him out. 

“His passion for freedom and justice created new hope for generations of oppressed people worldwide,” said former President Jimmy Carter. 

Musicians, clerics and sports figures joined the rush to offer accolades after Mr. Mandela’s death was announced late Thursday, with a leading South African cricketer, A. B. de Villiers, echoing Archbishop Tutu’s hope for a future free of renewed racial and social division. 

“Let us now, more than ever, stick together as a nation,” Mr. de Villiers said. “We owe him that much.” 

Mr. Mandela was closely linked with sports, both as a boxer in his youth and, after becoming South Africa’s first black president, as a supporter of the national Springbok rugby team — once a symbol of white exclusivism — which triumphed in the 1995 World Cup. 

But his broader legacy, for some sports figures, related to his quest for reconciliation and freedom. 

“He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale,” Muhammad Ali said in a statement. “His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens. He is now forever free.” 

Usain Bolt, the Jamaican Olympic sprinter, called Mr. Mandela “one of the greatest human beings ever.” 

In the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian leaders offered tributes to a man who had been a staunch supporter of and role model for the Palestine Liberation Organization, but who had also recognized what he called “the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism.” 

Mr. Mandela and his African National Congress resented the close military and intelligence ties that Israel maintained over decades with South Africa’s apartheid leadership, and one of his first acts as a free man was to visit Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader.
On Friday, Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader imprisoned since 2002, declared in a statement: “From within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours,” according to a translation released by the P.L.O. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Mr. Mandela “a paragon of our time” and a “moral leader of the first order,” while President Shimon Peres said his “legacy will remain etched on the pages of history and in the hearts of all those people whose lives he touched.” 

Some 40 African leaders and senior officials were gathering in Paris to attend a summit meeting with President François Hollande when Mr. Mandela died. Overshadowed by the news from Johannesburg, the gathering opened on Friday with one minute’s silence for Mr. Mandela.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cambodian are you feel lost Hun Sen like this too?for me I feel lost big nail in my eyes .KRANHUN EASAN