Sunday 17 December 2017

irish helped those 'not of own tribe'

Niall Mellon met the South African president many times and says he was particularly fascinated that so many volunteers were prepared to travel so far

I WAS asleep in Cape Town on Thursday night when my wife rang to tell me the news that Nelson Mandela had died.

I tried to absorb the news and eventually drifted back to sleep. But it was a disturbed, restless sleep. A man I knew had died and I felt that loss. I also realised that the South Africa I knew had changed, and when morning came it would forever be a different place. The great enduring star that illuminated the Rainbow Nation had finally passed, like a comet passing through space.

Most people are aware that for several months Mandela may as well have been dead. He was kept alive only by modern technology. Yet he wasn't dead, he was still alive, and as long as he was alive, even in that comatose state, his very existence continued to inspire the millions of south Africans who loved him so much.

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