Nelson-and-SledgeMandela’s life has touched many people’s lives in more different ways than one. I am paying homage to arguably the greatest statesman that ever lived. 

Those close to me may know that my dad George Chizhala who has a dual citizenship (Motswana and South African) literally grew up in Johanneburg, South Africa.

He is one of many who have witnessed firsthand repercussions of the apartheid era which was rife in the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s and so did my grandfather, Chizhala Phili.

Growing up in Tutume, north of Botswana was a traumatic experience for me, my mum and my two siblings as my dad was trying to make a living in Joburg. Sledge-and-sister

I still remember vividly how heart-wrenching it was for my mum as she listened to almost all the news bulletins on RB1 when she would encounter headlines such as “50 people shot dead in Soweto, 20 die in bomb attack in central Johannesburg” One classical example, black people had a curfew and were not allowed to roam the streets after 7pm.

Instead white men with guns (soldiers) would be roaming the streets of Jozi to maintain ‘order’. From time to time my father shared gruesome stories of his encounter with the law enforcement officers of that time.

He said it was all ‘normal’ to find people dead on pavements when they went to work in the mornings.

SledgeThe stories always left me numb and dazed! In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from jail and suddenly people had hope, so did my my family as the harsh realities on apartheid subsided.

The first democratic elections were held in 1994 and by now I was doing standard 7 back here in Botswana.

The new South Africa was born and all of a sudden the thought of losing my

beloved father which I had endured all my life was gone. I was relieved and now there was a new dawn and everybody had hope.

This all happened because of the orchestrator, the kingpin, the messiah, the chosen one Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. There was euphoria in the air!

The new South Africa meant both black and white would live together in harmony and had equal opportunities and this was all possible because of utata.

The playing/hustling ground was now ‘level’. Everybody was free as a result of sacrifices made by Madiba.

The kwaito generation was born which was a sign that young black South Africans were free. In 1997 a miracle happened.

My dad won a whopping P250,000.00 in some competition which left our family stunned! My dad who had all the scars of the apartheid era resurrected his life and with his winnings set up a business in Johannesburg.

This was a sign that indeed everybody had equal opportunities and doors opened up all because of Madiba!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mandela for what he has done for his people and the world over.

His life was a life well lived and he touched and saved so many lives, including my father’s.

His spirit will live on for generations to come and I am pretty sure our generation will never see anyone like him. Rest in peace Tata.




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