My 2 minutes with Nelson Mandela – my song for Tata Madiba: One by U2

It’s been a tough week for South Africans. With the death of former president Nelson Mandela, the whole country got turned on its head. The country lost a much loved figure. The world lost an icon. The world is a poorer place without him. When the news broke of his death, I was shocked. I always knew this day will come, and when it did, I still wasn’t ready to say goodbye to a much loved and respected leader, father and grandfather. Many people know Tata Madiba from what they’ve seen on TV and read in the newspapers. But there are a handful of privileged people who had the opportunity to meet the iconic leader, I was one of them. Back in the 90s, I was Editor of a community newspaper in the poor and struggling industrial town of Atlantis, which is on the outskirts of Cape Town. Almost a forgotten town hidden behind great white sand dunes. The town had its problems, like any other poor and struggling town in South Africa. But it also had its pride and joy. One of those was the building of a new court for the community. It might sound bizarre that there was excitement about a new court, but it was a beacon of hope for many as it created jobs for many in Atlantis. With the opening day closing in, the news broke – President Nelson Mandela was going to be at the opening! I was excited, nervous and not quite sure how to handle the situation of such an iconic figure visiting the town. The day of the visit all journalists had to be at the court at the break of dawn for a briefing from security about the do’s and don’ts when meeting or photographing the President. When he arrived at the court building, it was mayhem. Cries of joy, tears of joy and the chanting of Viva Madiba echoing through the air. He came around and personally shook hands with each journalist. When it was my turn, he shook my hand, smiled and asked me “how are you doing?” with that big Madiba smile. I almost swallowed my tongue. All I could utter was, “it’s going very well, Mr President.” He then continued to ask me for which publication I worked for, and when I told him I’m Editor of the local community newspaper, he took both his hands and held it in my hand and laughed and smiled and said, “that is great to see you here. You must enjoy your time in Atlantis.” Then he moved on. It was 2 minutes of my life I will always cherish and never forget, ever. His death made me think of the best song for me to describe him, and for me it’s U2’s classic song, One.   

“One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other"

Rest in peace Tata Madiba, you taught us so much of forgiveness and united a broken country. Hamba kahle, Tata Madiba…This song is for you...One by U2