tribute patricia

"Tata Madiba, you should start an academy," I said in Parliament in my farewell speech to this great icon of our freedom and reconciliation, "an academy where you can teach the ANC tolerance."

As the noisy protest erupted from the ANC benches, I pointed at them and shouted, "You see, Tata - that is what I mean!" Considering his world-famous sense of humour, Madiba's hearty laughter came as no surprise.

We can all also learn from Nelson Mandela's incredibly good manners. When you are in a meeting with him and he wants to go to the toilet, without fail he always says, "I'm just going to wash my hands quickly."

We should also not forget that our Tata Madiba is the inventor of the world-famous Madiba shirt and Madiba shuffle - I have yet to find another South African who can jive like Nelson Mandela!

Tata Madiba, I have come to know you very well over the years. I have been to most of your birthday parties and we have phoned and visited each other on a regular basis. And although there are many lessons to learn from you, Tata Madiba, you have one leadership trait that I shall always hold dear. You have the genuine ability to make whoever you are talking to feel more special than you. It is a humility that puts other people first and it comes straight from the heart.


Many years ago, when he learned that I was in Mthatha, Madiba called me up and invited me to lunch. When I arrived I noticed that Graça was quite upset. The reason for this was her famous husband's habit of always saying yes - besides me, he also had lunch appointments with a few Kings and Oprah Winfrey.


Even though there is a natural and understandable tendency amongst South Africans to credit Madiba as the architect of our freedom, he will never allow that. Instead, he is always talking about the many other great men and women from across the political spectrum, who suffered and died so that we could attain freedom as a unified nation.


It was this quality that enabled Nelson Mandela to rise above political party loyalty and deliver on a vision that was all-inclusive. From being a broken country we became whole due to this historic lesson in tolerance - the African heart forgives easily, sometimes to our own detriment. Nelson Mandela taught us this about the spirit of ubuntu - that the whole is more important than the individual. In a few short years he taught us so much about our own self-worth and dignity. This, in turn, went so very far towards creating a common South African identity, one that is more powerful than race. Tata Madiba, your legacy will always guide us.


I was privileged to learn a few years back that Tata Madiba and I were both from the L1d "haplogroup", after DNA samples from us had been taken, me and a man who once called me "a very strong, principled woman".


I obviously still have very much to learn from you, Tata, but you have taught me as a person, you have taught us as a nation, and we will never let you down.
In Long Walk to Freedom, you wrote: "I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."

This is a message all South Africans can learn from. Tata Madiba, you held our hands up the first hill to political freedom, but now we must climb the next hill to economic freedom. And once again we will need the enthusiasm and sacrifice of all South Africans. There is no time to rest for even a moment, "for with freedom comes responsibilities".
The work has not yet ended. Together we can bridge the divides. So let us continue the work of Nelson Mandela and climb this hill together. Tata Madiba, thank you for having a heart that has always been big enough for all of us.

(2007)