Statement by Johnny Clegg on the passing of Mr Nelson Mandela

My family and I send our condolences to all the Mandela family members on the passing of Tata. We also share with all South Africans and the global community our sense of loss and sadness at his passing.

Nelson Mandela will always define a deep part of what and who are as individuals and as a nation. It is difficult to separate the great journey to secure a democratic and non-racial South Africa from his personal qualities and character. For all South Africans he was the face and form of that voyage, particularly in the crucial decade of 1990 – 2000.

In the defining and tempestuous years of 1990 through to April 27th 1994 his leadership never gave the impression that he was overwhelmed by events, even in the darkest hours of Boipatong and other atrocities that were meant to derail the negotiations. When at times we felt doubt or fear, his strong resonant voice rolled out over the radio or TV and, like a tide going out, our reservations about the future receded.  We took immense nourishment and succor from his fearless and positive attitude. His charismatic openness, straight aim, direct but respectful communication with his opponents was a singularly rare quality in a time of racist and right wing demagoguery. A country in turmoil needs to feel that the Ship of State, riding the storm, is in good hands and he never gave us cause to doubt that the storm would pass and the country would be free. It is the qualities of tolerance and forgiveness however which stand out as his lasting legacy as well as the way he used these to unite the country both during and after his presidency.

With all our fellow South Africans we acknowledge with deep gratitude the debt we owe to this Man from Qunu, who bequeathed us this great country of promise. Today, although we grieve, we also proudly rejoice in his remarkable life, which we were privileged to share through extraordinary times.

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