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Els honours Madiba

The golfer recalled his fondest moments with former president Nelson Mandela.

South African golfer Ernie Els. Source: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Ernie Els says it's a sad day for South Africa and for the world after the loss of an iconic leader of our time.

Els is currently taking part in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City.

The players will be wearing black ribbons in remembrance of Mandela.

He says there is nothing bad that can be said about the former statesman.

"He fought for what he believed in. He went to prison for so many years, came out, and led our country all the way till now. He's the father of the country and of the continent as well."

Els says unfortunately, we can't have him around forever.

"Unfortunately he had to go. At 95, we can say he had a full life. It's a shame that a lot of it was not spent on what he was so good at because he was away for so many years. It's a very sad day for everybody."

He says Madiba loved children.

"He saw me with my daughter next to me. After he saw her, he didn't want to speak to me anymore, he wanted to talk to my daughter. Samantha sat on his lap and he spoke to her like she was his grandchild."

Els says he will always cherish his time with Madiba.

"The little time we spent together was very special. He's was the most amazing person I've ever met."

The golfer says we must be thankful to Madiba for what he did for South Africa.

"He was our president. He was a man who changed our lives. It could have been so different in South Africa, but he kept his head and kept everybody going forward.

"I was in the air force when the ANC was banned. I remember those days in the 1980's when the government was against the ANC.

"They were our enemies and then Madiba came in, took over the country and lead it in a wonderfully democratic way."

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