18 Jul How we miss Madiba – Old Uplander Danielle Sheedy’s memoir!
With Nelson Mandela Day here, I cast my mind back to the wonderful impression that Madiba, the father of our nation, made on me. When I was 12 years old, I wrote him a poem and, through a series of people and coincidences, it fell into his hands.
“Nelson Mandela is a fascinating man,
with an amazing amount of fans.
He has touched many lives,
And has been through many strives.
Nelson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,
And has heard the people’s cries.
He was the first black President,
And spent 27 years in prison as a resident.
Now he is free and very wise,
And gives his people good advice.
God bless you, father of our nation,
And thanks forever for our salvation. ”
He was so taken by my poem that he wanted to meet and thank me personally. He invited me to a dinner in Maputo, where the French president at the time, Jacques Chirac, was presenting an award.
I remember him sitting there in his typical, traditional Madiba shirt – this great man, who was one of the most famous leaders in the world – telling me how my words had touched him. He asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school, and I told him I wanted to study journalism, which I later went on to do. He inspired me to follow my dreams.
Mandela was a kind, humble man, and I believe with all that’s going on in the world, we should strive to follow in his footsteps, and try to be the very best versions of ourselves. It was a great honour and a privilege to have met him, and it has definitely contributed to shaping me into the person I am today.