My uncle wrote a great letter to the world on Facebook...
Dear World (and some South Africans).
This week has been extraordinary in an extraordinarily South African way. If anyone thought that Soccer City would be a mass gathering of sombre, black clad mourners shedding tears, they don't understand South Africa. If anyone thought that it would go off without a hitch, they don't understand South Africa ... we specialise in monumental hitches, although our (yes, he is ours) interpreter has redefined how not to do a security check.
The new (clichè, I know) South Africa is brazen, open and honest. The people who booed a corrupt, inept President are not bringing the Presidency into disrepute. The President himself has done that quite adequately himself. The booing was holding him up against Madiba and saying 'you just don't cut it.' It was an expression of yearning for the Rainbow to regain its vibrant colours.
Most South Africans really believe that the heavy rains throughout the country (Western and Northern Cape excepted) was especially for Madiba.
I am not sure if the world heard The Arch's sermon a mere 12 hours after the official announcemnts of Madiba's passing. He had the congregation crying they were laughing so much. I think the point is that the nation has privately been mourning since June. There was no shock involved, sadness, yes, but not devastation. A sense of loss was one side of the coin of an enormous sense of pride that this Son of the Soil, our soil, bestrode the world stage with humility, humour and a deep humanity matched only by Ghandi.
South Africans crave these unity moments, each one of which cements our sense of being South Africans, rather than racially classified people trying uncomfortably to share a geographic space. We queued to vote in '94, cheered the Boks in '95, presented the best World Cup ever, against the odds and expectations in 2010 and this week we have celebrated Mandela together. Everyone ... and I mean everyone ... has their favourite Madiba story and amazingly they are almost all first hand experiences.
Madiba is arguably the most loved human being off all time.
This week we, as a nation, have felt incrediblly special. So, if we dance and sing and have the freedom to boo our President without getting hanged, then please forgive us. I think this week will go down in history as the week when we discovered ourselves. A week when our moral compass was re-booted.
And the children. A generation across the world is going to grow up on Mandela stories, not orchestrated by an all-knowing priesthood, but simply part of the global consciousness of what it is to be a good human being. Madiba claimed neither perfection nor divinity and there will be those who try to bestow him with such attributes. The greatest service we can do to his memory will be to realise that what he was extraordinarily good at was being extra-ordinarily ordinary.
In African culture it is regarded as extremely rude to walk into a room without acknowledging everyone present. Madiba took this ordinary custom to extra-ordinary heights in greeting and thanking waiters and kitchen staff at State Dinners. Affairs of state were never more important than his concern for those around him.
So World, let us all take stock and not worry about the interpreter or the booers or the funereal exuberance of South Africans and , like Madiba, start caring for our neighbours, especially those for whom life is hard right now. When all is said and done ... that is all that is necessary to make the world a fundamentally better place.
I think this sums up this week's events and the way we (South Africans) operate. Remember folks, Africa is nothing like Europe and the USA; we have our own way of doing things and they will more often than not appear to be wrong and odd to you.
Embrace it and enjoy the South African way :-D .