South Africans living in New Zealand have spoken about the peace Nelson Mandela brought to their country, and their concern that extreme political groups may unhinge the good work that has been done.
Auckland recruiter Andrew Brownlee once tutored Mandela’s grandson at a tertiary college he ran in South Africa. Mandela spoke at the school’s graduation: “Probably the most inspirational thing that I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to, he spoke from the heart for about an hour and a half,” Mr Brownlee said. Mandela had kept South Africa peaceful and there was now trepidation as to whether that “sense of calmness” would remain, Mr Brownlee said.
“There’s still a lot of tension in the country, but it seems a little calmer – the country has a long way to go, but it’s come a long way.” Cathy Mellett, who runs the south-africa.co.nz website, said the news of Mandela’s death gave her “goosebumps”. “It’s absolutely a tragedy. I think he almost was, in terms of the South African environment, the Mahatma Gandhi of today. “He really brought that country together.”
In South Africa, many are reacting to the death of Mandela with deep sadness at the loss of a man considered by many to be the father of the nation.
Mourners also say it is a time to celebrate the achievements of the iconic former South African president and anti-apartheid leader.
One Johannesburg resident, 31-year-old Hamsa Moosa, said after the 95-year-old Mandela died that he “wouldn’t be free” if not for the man affectionately known by his clan name “Madiba”.
A 29-year-old accountant, Thumelo Madikwe, says Mandela played his role in the world “very well” and that he lived a long life.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death shortly before midday today (NZT).
Rebecca Quilliam, Senior reporter, APNZ News