Nelson Mandela has passed on: a tribute from WONCA

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Dr Shabir Moosa writes - "Hamba Kahle Tata"

We are privileged to have lived in the life and times of Nelson Mandela or Tata Madiba, as he was fondly called. Alas he passed away on Thursday 5th December in his Johannesburg home at the ripe age of 95.
As an icon of South Africa, he led the struggle against apartheid (mostly from a lonely cell) and went on to become the first president of a democratic South Africa. His legacy of humanity will live with us in our lives and hopefully be cherished by future generations. He was not only a South African but an African and global statesman and inspiration. I was fortunate to have joined him in the 1990s for tea and chats at his home in Qunu, Transkei and he was every bit the warm, personable homeboy that everyone imagines. I am just glad he had enough years to catch up on the simple things in life – his family.

It is a time to be sad but also to celebrate his achievements and legacy. We must never forget his values and principles. These are values and principles that echo in many of the hearts of family doctors across the world, as they sacrifice for their communities. We take inspiration to work hard towards a fair and just world, especially in health care.

The world body of family doctors extends condolences to the family of Madiba. We pay tribute to your sacrifice as much as his.

Hamba Kahle Tata
- Go well, father. You are in our hearts.

Dr Shabir Moosa
WONCA Africa commincations

Prof Michael Kidd writes

Nelson Mandela gave us the gift of being someone we could all look up to. Someone who overcame great challenges with dignity. Someone with great compassion for humanity. Someone who used his great intellect and talent for leadership to make our world a better place.

Among Nelson Mandela's enduring lessons for those who aspire to leadership in any field of life, "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

Professor Michael Kidd
WONCA president

Prof Amanda Howe writes

The great man of our generation has passed - we must mark this, of course. Here is one I like, written (I believe) for him: a good message for those of us who find ourselves to be family medics, and unexpected leaders.
Our Deepest Fear
by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory that is within us.

It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Prof Amanda Howe
WONCA President Elect

Prof Ian Couper, Immediate Past Chair of the WONCA working Party on Rural Practice and Director of the Centre for Rual Health, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, writes:

It is a significant time of remembering and reflection for us in South Africa, and it is wonderful to hear and know that the world is joining in.

I happened to be doing consultancy work for Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay district, Eastern Cape, when the news came through, so the connection was particularly dramatic.
Our radio and TV stations have wall-to-wall coverage of Madiba’s life; so many wonderful, inspiring and challenging stories are coming out from people about the man.

Two things have really stood out for me in the few days since his passing:

1. The major response in many places – particularly outside his home in Houghton, Johannesburg and in Vilakazi Street, Soweto, where he used to live (the only street in the world where 2 Nobel laureates have lived, the other being Desmond Tutu, who also used to live there) – has been singing and dancing; in other words, the sombre reflection is accompanied by lots of celebration in honour of an exceptional life, and rejoicing for what he achieved with and for us. And Mandela would have appreciated the singing and dancing! One of the reflections I heard traveling back from the airport last night was from a Johnny Clegg concert (?in London); Clegg and Juluka or Savuka (can’t remember which) were singing “Asimbonanga ... Mandela” [“We do not see him .. Mandela”, referring to his time in prison], when he appeared behind them on the stage – unbeknownst to them; once they realised after the number was over, he then insisted they sing it again so he could join in with the dancing and singing.

2. The passing of Mandela has touched the lives of people from all racial, political, cultural and faith backgrounds; the people phoning in, tweeting, texting messages, etc, have been a true representation of the rainbow nation that Mandela fought for, a reminder of what was achieved by his leadership, and proof that, despite our on-going challenges, we are a transformed nation.

In July, I sent out a message to many international friends and colleagues for Mandela Day; I excerpt below a portion of that:

Although Mandela has no direct influence on current politics any more, and remains seriously ill, his legacy is still very powerful and will continue to share our country regardless of whether or not he is alive. For many of us, his words at his inauguration as president of a newly democratic South Africa on 9 May 1994 remain a beacon: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.

This flows directly from his words in his so-called treason trial 30 years before, in 1964: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

But he has said many inspirational things; a few of my favourites are:
  • “The time is always right to do right.”
  • “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
  • “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
  • “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
  • "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
  • Remember, "There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Aluta continua.

Madiba remains an inspiration for us all.
Warm regards