The death of a public figure

I feel like I need to write a post about Nelson Mandela dying. It’s not that I have anything particularly momentous to say to mark the occasion, I think this event can take care of itself in momentous stakes anyway. Not that it was unexpected, the dude was old – the world knew this was coming, yet the world is still in shock.

It’s the loss of such a huge public figure that I wanted to dwell on; he didn’t really have anything to do with me – clearly not personally, and nothing he did made any kind of huge direct impact on my life…apart from it did really didn’t it? Nelson Mandela changed the face of the world we live in, not only in South Africa but all over the world. The work he started – and I don’t profess to know about it in huge detail – still has a way to go. We don’t live in an equal world, even here in England we do not – nor can we or should we pretend to – live in a place where everyone is treated and valued the same. The abolition of apartheid was a huge huge step, but now we have the less easily visible prejudices to conquer. Is there anyone as courageous, ambitious and strong as Nelson Mandela out there doing this now?

It’s odd when someone so important to world history dies; what we experience is the death of someone we thought could never die, who by their very importance to the world simply wasn’t allowed to. They do, though, as we all do and then they slowly become history book fodder rather than living human beings. Their events and actions are narrativised, more so than during their lives  – their actions become less fresh, as remembered events tend to do.

I think it’s interesting how the death of a world figure such as Nelson Mandela has such a huge impact, even on those on an entirely different continent. It’s like something in the fabric of what our world is made up of has shifted, creating ripples that carry a force with them all round the world. Which, I suppose, is a fancy way of saying historical events effect us, and change the present. Anyway, that’s my bit about Nelson Mandela, RIP.


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