“Black prisoners were issued with shorts instead of long pants simply to humiliate them, but even in shorts Madiba looked like a demi god, it was impossible to humiliate him.” These words spoken by a former Robben Island prisoner who saw Madiba taking his first steps into prison are, for me, the most profound summary of the man we mourn today. It’s impossible to ever grasp the state one’s spirit must be in, in the face of oppression that’s meant to kill one’s dignity. This marks the miracle factor that was Rolihlahla Mandela, his dignity was untouchable and his spirit unbendable.
"By virtue of his above average height, remarkable way with words, intelligence and razor sharp sense of humour, it’s safe to say his was a life that was designed not to be missed. 27 years on an island couldn’t erase him from people’s minds and without a doubt another 100 years from now will fail just the same. I am eternally grateful for the precious gift given to my generation not only by his turn-the-other cheek grace but by all the selfless and in many cases nameless, faceless elders who sacrificed their families, youth, lives and much more for me to sit in my own office today, writing this tribute. As a beacon of how far the human heart can stretch past hatred and reach for humility and forgiveness even after so much loss, we at BONA thank Madiba and his family for such a life changing legacy.
Lala Ngoxolo Dalibhunga.