LAFIA, Nasarawa, Nigeria – The time was 6 a.m. on a very beautiful, balmy morning.
I hauled myself out of bed after incessant beeps from my mobile phone.
After dilly-dallying for few minutes, I picked up my phone and opened my inbox.
Then it happened.
Everything morphed into sorrow, and silence clouded our Friday.
Tears and celebration ripple through our faces.It was a heart-rending message from CNN Breaking News: “Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president who led the peaceful transition from white-only rule, has died aged 95, after a long illness.”
That verb “died” brought a cascade of flowing tears, sadness and sorrow.
I was startled. My eyes dilated as my soul drooped.
Finally, Mandela had left us.
Mandela remains one man whose name is eternally etched on my mind.
I remember he spent 27 excruciating years in prison at Robben Island off the southern coast of South Africa.
He wanted a better life for his people: A life free from oppression, a life
free from maltreatment, a life free from injustice, a life of joy, justice and
Twenty seven years in prison is no picnic. It goes with suffering, tears, pain and anguish. Yet Mandela never gave up; he remained tenacious and exuded dogged determination.
He knew where he was going and he always knew what he wanted – freedom from debilitating apartheid.
Upon his release on February 11, 1990, he went on to diligently serve his people as president. A president with a difference, he was.
To many, he was famed for his predilection for humanity and humanitarian causes, but I have always seen him as a man who conquered apartheid, who stood for justice, who fought for freedom, and created an egalitarian society in South Africa.
Mandela is one man I draw inspiration from, a man whose death brought me nothing but sorrow and tears.
I have drunk from his cup of wisdom, and so have many African youths.
Africans, Africans and the world over will never forget his solicitude for his people.
One thing I learned from Mandela: Never, never be cowed by adversity.
This morning, I wrote this tribute to him: