On behalf of our Government and the people of KwaZulu-Natal I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to Graca Machel and the entire Mandela family following the sad passing of our beloved father Tata Nelson Mandela.
Although we were aware of his critical condition, we nursed the hope that he would recover and be with us again. The resilience throughout his stay in hospital once again demonstrated perseverance in the face of adversity - a remarkable trait of Madiba’s extraordinary life.
He leaves us with particularly fond memories as people of KwaZulu-Natal. He exercised his first democratic vote in Inanda, here in our Province, and reported to the fallen fathers of our liberation that their people were free at last.
Importantly, before his long incarceration, he spent the last days of his freedom here in this Province. The capture site in Howick will forever stand as a monument in memory of a man whose commitment to the emancipation of his people mobilised all of humanity to rise up against a crime against humanity itself – apartheid.
We stand up today to salute a man who strode with grace and elegance among the great statesmen of our time and commanded an exalted place for us as Africans in the community of nations. We bow our heads in honour of a leader who was among us in KwaZulu-Natal during the darkest days of political violence, and persuaded us to throw our pangas, guns and knobkieries into the sea and find each other in peace as brothers and sisters despite our conflicting political inclinations.
Indeed, as a leader of our first democratic Government, he worked with us as Provincial counterparts to refine our system of governance as we navigated through the difficult teething challenges of legislating the will of the majority of our people – confident that we derived our mandate from the collective wishes of millions of the citizens of South Africa.
We wished this moment would never come to pass. If we had our way, we would never have to say “Hamba Kahle, Tata”.
Yet, we rejoice in the knowledge that Madiba has achieved what he sought to achieve those many years ago when he started the Long Walk to Freedom. His people are free. In his words, “May the sun never set on so glorious a human achievement”.
What remains is for us as a people to strive even harder to ensure that Mandela’s suffering and sacrifice was not in vain. His ideals live on among us. They serve to inspire our Government and our people never to betray his dream of a better life for all our people. Let us stand up and build a future KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa that Madiba would have been proud of.
Rest in peace Qhawe lamaQhawe.
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