Remembering Madiba...

As SA commemorates the anniversary, public figures have shared their stories.

FILE: Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: Sapa

CAPE TOWN - Today marks exactly a year since the passing of one of South Africa's most revered struggle icons, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who died peacefully in his Houghton home in Johannesburg at the age of 95.

Mandela was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly three decades in prison.

He had been receiving treatment for a lung infection since September 2013.

He died surrounded by his family and close friends.

When the news first broke a year ago, the nation mourned and celebrated the man who will always be remembered as a pillar of strength for all South Africans.

Public figures spoke to Eyewitness News about the lessons they've learnt from Mandela, the special moments they shared with him and how it impacted their lives.


Singer and songwriter Lira says Madiba was her hero who helped her through her own troubled times.

She says Madiba was a massive inspiration that allowed her to turn her life around when days seemed dark.

"When I was going through my own struggles, just finding my place in this world, and I think I was in the habit of blaming the situation, blaming the past. His story reminded me that the past is just that, it's the past. We have the power to change our lives."

She says one of her songs was based on her hero.


Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says he admired Madiba's fearless character and determination to persevere.

"He had determination, fearless character, very militant and a man of honour who did everything in his power to give his people a decent life."

Malema says Madiba was an EFF member in a way.


Veteran SA news broadcaster Riaan Cruywagen says Madiba's legacy is being eroded as the country's path that he had mapped out is not being adhered to.

But, he says he'll never forget the day he met the stalwart.

"My fondest memory of Madiba is probably his ability to treat everyone as his equal. He was such a modest man. The first time I met him, he greeted me with a huge smile on his face, shook my hand and said, 'Mr Cruywagen, how nice to see you here'."


Satirist and cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, has exposed several South African politicians' shenanigans over many years with his sharpened pencil.

He says his most memorable cartoon of Mandela, is when he portrayed the struggle icon as a youngster in a classroom.

"On the board it says 'what will I be?' and the teachers are whispering to the principal, 'this one can't make up his mind,' he put down lawyer, activist freedom fighter."


Golfing legend Gary Player has recalled what a legendary and humble man the late former president was.

He recalls how he was summoned to Madiba's office and how his perception of him changed during their meeting.

He says he has never ever met a man as wise as Mandela. Player says Madiba is one of the few greatest men who have walked the earth.


Former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena believes Madiba shaped South Africans and there's a need for a leader who has his values.

He says he will always treasure his memories of Madiba.

"I always say I am fortunate. I am fortunate that I managed to meet up with him; I managed to take pictures with him. Listen to his wisdom."

Mokoena says South Africans have to remember what Madiba has done for this country.

"We are what we are because of him and there's no change that anyone one can forget what he has done for us. I always say we have to move on. We need a person who can take from Madiba. He is the only one, but we need to take from what he fought for."


South African author Max du Preez says he will always cherish time spent Mandela.

Du Preez says he was invited to Madiba's Soweto home a few days after he had been released from prison in February 1990.

He says Madiba was a true leader and it's doubtful anybody will be able to fill his shoes.

"He was a giant, nobody could replace him. I think we could have asked somebody to do some of the work that he was doing and have some of the presence that he had and some of that inspiration, but instead we were disappointed."