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Tribute to Mandela: 11 000 messages, 66 000 e-mails, 5000 registers signed

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South African former president Nelson Mandela (C) poses for a picture with members of the Black Eyed Peas band from L to R: Fergie, Taboo, Will.I.Am and Apl.De.Ap in Johannesburg 29 May 2006 after making a courtesy call at Mandela's office. The Band is in South Africa for a benefit concert for Johannesburg's underprivileged people.     AFP PHOTO / Alexander Joe

It is one year to this day, 5th December 2014 when the South African former president, Nelson Mandela, died in Johannesburg at the age of 95 years old.

Today, the whole world commemorates the first sad anniversary of the hero of the fight anti-apartheid. A universal tribute for forgiveness and national reconciliation work by the Nobel Prize is thus paid this great man known worldwide.

For the occasion, a Babel for tributes will thus be displayed up from Thursday at the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory in Johannesburg.

This emotional Babel contains about 5000 registers of condolences that were signed since the death of Mandela, pages written in a decorative hand worldwide from where the gratitude, the admiration and the inspiration aroused by the father of the democratic South Africa rise.

We can also listen again to some of his 11.000 messages left on the answering machine of the foundation.

« 66 000 e-mails were also sent at that time« , specified Razia Saleh, the archivist of the foundation, and over several meters long, a wall erected in front of the South African Parliament in Cape Town covered with messages.

« It was very moving. Some were crying while writing« , remembered Mrs Saleh.

We should specify that registers were opened everywhere, Santiago (Chile), Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Messages writing in the most exotic languages, sometimes punctuated with heart, bound with golden leather cover, or simple plastic file.

With his ballpoint pen exceeding lines, Eihan Siemmel, a 7-year-old South African boy, wrote: « Singing the national anthem make of me a good cricket player. I do it for you, Mandela« .

Further, Ketso, 4 years, drew a head smiling with all its teeth, tribute to this smile coming from deep his heart moved the interlocutors of the Nobel prize.

« Goodbye and keep your smile. We shall never allow your legacy to be destroyed« , signed T.C.

« Madiba, ons waardeer dre voorbeeld en menslikheid.Dankie, Dankie, Dankie » (Madiba, we love your example and your humanity. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you), continued in Afrikaans, Louwtje and Bettie Viljoen, Dutch colonists descendants.

A South African traditional leader wisely praises Mandela in a griot style « ubeyinthlamvu yelangu emkhathini » (the sunshine in the sky).

« Dear Madiba, our king of Africa, our humble servant« , said another South African, thanking the former president for having been able to study at the university thanks to him.

Most of his fellow countrymen thanked, sometimes with very specific details, for the changes occurred in their life or in the country by the abolition of the apartheid.

« We are free at last« , summarizes Lwazi.

Somewhere else, pupils of a Jewish school of Toronto (Canada) wrote acrostics. In Calcutta (India), the South African consul pasted headed letters ending with « Yours-in-sorrow » of a quite oriental respect.

From Belfast (Northern Ireland), arrived an exercise book with names, first names and Mountjoy prisoners’ cell numbers, succinctly completed by « Rest in Peace« , « I admired this man« , or « Perpetuity Belfast« .

« We continue receiving registers« , noticed Razia Saleh.

Many messages express the chance to have lived in the same era with Mandela or tell the space left by his death at 95 years old.

« Hello Nelson! If you hear me, here are my words: we miss you. You were one of our best leaders. Strong, brave as a lion. You are as Morgan Freeman (the Afro-American actor embodying Mandela in the movie « Invictus ») .As of the twins! But you are the best of both (…) .Rest in the paradise. You achieved great things. Viva« , wrote an unknown person from Hong-Kong.

During classes at saint-Marie de Hann of Dakar, all the school, even the guardians, was requested to think about the life and the work of the South African former president.

Nelson Mandela is honored there for his action against the racist regime in South Africa and in a moving anachronism for all the political conquests of 19th and 20th centuries.

« Thank you for the fight against the apartheid. Thank you for the abolition of slavery. Thank you for the voting right for women (…) », says a message from this « visitors’ book« .

Tireless fighter against the apartheid segregationist regime that imprisoned him for twenty seven years, Nelson Mandela managed to avoid a civil war by becoming in 1994, the first Black president of democratic and peaceful South Africa, having known how to forgive his former jailers.


Original text by: Blaise AKAME

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