Cape Town Celebrates Mandela’s Birthday

You can try to fill his shoes, but truly great shoes are hard to fill

Nelson Mandela will reach the ripe old age of 92, on 18th July. He’s not the only freedom fighter, yet he is considered the grandfather of South Africa and he has captured hearts on an international scale. He did not fight for the rights of black and coloured races, rather he stood for a freedom that encompassed all. His struggle was one of tireless conviction, in which he sacrificed a great deal of his life. The spirit that Mandela instills in people is not something just anybody can do. As we approach the birthday of an icon, we asked Capetonians: ‘What does Mandela mean to you?’

CTM: What does Mandela mean to you?

Henry Vanderwesthuizen:
“Mandela is a strong figure that entitles hope, by encouraging us to look towards the future of South Africa.”

Nadim Jacobs: “There is no other person that did what he did. He sacrificed most of his life for the Republic of South Africa. He sees that a colour is not important; it’s what is in the heart that matters.”

Rose Macbride: “When he left prison, he was someone who had the power to do a lot of damage, yet he did exactly the opposite. He embraced everyone.”

CTM: What sort of place do you think South Africa would be if he didn’t exist?

Rose:
“Not the same at all. He has opened up a lot of people’s eyes and changed a lot of attitudes – even those who are set in their ways. I don’t want to know when he passes. Everyone wants him to live until at least 200 years old.”

Ralph Prince: “There would still be Apartheid without him. But it was by Gods will that he was let out of prison to put things right. It was the right time.”

Pablo Roberts: “I’m sure somebody would have tried to fill his shoes, but like Mother Teresa, truly great people are few and far between.”

CTM: If you were to meet him, what would you say to him?

Nadim:
“You are the person that I aspire to be, because of what you have done for this world.”

Lucky: “Hello, Mandela. You are our grandfather and the World Cup was here because of you. I wish you a long life.”

Pablo: “Why aren’t you still president?”

Pam: “I would just shake his hand. I would only need to shake his hand; then a lot of blessings would surely come my way.”

CTM: Would you compare him to President Obama?

Nadim:
“You can’t compare him to Obama. He’s just a man who saw the reality of the world. His belief in God meant that he put everyone else before him. This is the essence of the person that he is.”

Carla Fowles: “Living in the same country, you get to know what he represents. He’s a role model - that’s the best way to sum him up.”

Pam: “He is worshipped because of what he did.”

Read more about Nelson Mandela Day 2010

By Lisa Nevitt and Elske van der Velden

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