Goodbye Madiba

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Last night, what we had all feared happened - Madiba said goodbye.

What Mandela represents to us is that something different might be possible and his achievements are extraordinary.

Originating from a humble rural village, Mandela became one of Africa's greatest sons commanding global adoration as he fought to end apartheid in South Africa. Imprisoned for 27 years in his fight to achieve racial justice and equality, Mandela gave an unwelcomed global spotlight to the injustice of apartheid and the plight of  black South Africans by the white minority.

Despite the savage imprisonment he endured, Mandela had an overriding sense of humanity as he worked for justice  through peaceful means, working with his oppressors not for revenge, but with an earnest sense of freedom for his people.

"Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.'

This stoic and fearless determination gave that sense of hope and inspiration to all. Unrelenting in his fight for justice, in 1994 Mandela became the first president of South Africa in an election in which both black and white South Africans had the vote.

A number of us at OBV were very privileged to have met him back in 1996 at  Brixton, including Ashok Viswanathan, Simon Woolley and Lee Jasper 's eldest son Remy.

When I heard the news last night, Simon Woolley and I were at the premiere of the Long Walk to Freedom, the film depicting his heroic life. The celebration of his life was quickly filled by the sorrow felt at his loss.

The greatest tribute to him, for us to all give, must surely be to continue to fight against racial and social injustice, and to do so with humility and humanity.

 Francine Fernandes

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