Saturday 7 December 2013

The day Nelson Mandela died

We were awake until 2am last night listening to the news that Nelson Mandela died. It wasn't a shock, it was a matter of time.

Having lived in South Africa for 3 years, I've come to understand the legacy that Mandela has left behind. I read moving tributes on twitter and it was the one's from the South Africans, black and white that touched my heart.

It feels like every person is this country has lost someone close.

We were travelling in the Eastern Cape, we spent 4 days traveling the Wild Coast, driving through the Xhosa homelands. When I came down to breakfast this morning and I entered the room, there were around 50 people having their breakfast, chatting and you'd never know anything had happened. My MIL did not have the TV on this morning and she did not know that Mandela had died as no one was talking about it.

I wanted to ask 'have you heard the news?' 'Do you know Mandela is dead?' Where is the reaction, the expected out pouring of grief?

How will people respond when they return home, but I guess the people who work here are at home, how many people are actually oblivious to the news this morning?

We only have access to the Internet when we reach our hotel and the radio reception was poor today. We drove to Plettenburg Bay, no indication that Mandela was dead, we drove to Mossel Bay, ate out in a crowded and vibrant restaurant, again no indication that Mandela is dead. We put the TV on in the apartment and the BBC tell us that South Africa is in mourning, that flags are flying at half mast, that people are out in the street, celebrating his life.

That's not we are seeing on the South Coast of South Africa. Maybe news is till spreading, maybe we will feel that Mandela has died when we reach Cape Town in 4 days time. We travel north to Pretoria and home on the 15th, the day of his funeral.

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