6th of December - Just off the plane, landed in Johannesburg for the first time in 1999, I felt at home. I travelled the country for 15 days, discovering the magnificent landscapes and being amused by the smiling eyes of all South African people.
I felt welcome, and more than that, people were always polite, smiling, helping. I never felt scared or unsafe, instead my heart was moved by encompassing sunsets and by people’s respect, no matter which skin colour. I was amazed by how Apartheid and its brutality ended up leaving no sense of revenge, disrespect for white people. I started reading more about Madiba and South African history and my respect and love for Madiba and this country grew deeper and deeper, to a level that whenever I hear South African anthem my heart is filled with emotion or whenever I see a picture of Madiba I find myself smiling or feeling better. I came back every year since then till when in 2003 Attilio and my best friends came with me. We have been together to Robben Island, where a guide deeply touched my soul. Listening the incredible sufferance Madiba went through for 27 years fighting for his country and her story. Having been herself a prisoner, she told us she was proud to show the world what happened as this was the way to avoid it happening again. With a smile a will never forget in my life.
I wish I could have the chance just to hold Madiba’s hand for a minute. That’s how I feel today. This morning we all together raised our South African flag at half-mast, holding each other’s hands paying tribute to the Father of our Nation. I was fighting the tears all the time as all of us were. And still I can’t help myself.
We know we have lost a great man and Slent will always honour Madiba.
Hamba Kahle, Good Bye, Arrivederci Tata Madiba.
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