Our hero: As world mourns, South African gay groups pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

‘He leaves a legacy of resilience and compassion that we as LGBTI persons must never forget'

Our hero: As world mourns, South African gay groups pay tribute to Nelson Mandela
05 December 2013

As the world mourns, gay groups have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela – the man who became the father of his nation and gave hope to LGBT Africa.

Less than an hour after his death, South Africans are still in shock at the passing of the man who led them to freedom.

But LGBT leaders from the country who spoke to Gay Star News wanted to pay tribute to a hero who taught the world that love would triumph over hate.

The 95-year-old apartheid revolutionary passed away from a lung infection today (5 December)

While best known for his work in race equality as South Africa’s first black president, he also created the Rainbow Nation – a country where gay rights and marriage equality was enshrined in the constitution.

In his book Long Walk To Freedom, Mandela says: ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

Imprisoned for 27 years, he cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony with equal opportunities.

In 1964, during the Rivonia trial, he said: ‘It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realized. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’

Junior Mayema, an activist from People Against Suffering Opression and Poverty (PASSOP), described Mandela as a ‘hero’.

Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘Nelson Mandela changed South Africa from Apartheid nation to the Rainbow nation, where every human being living in this country must be free and equal in rights and dignity.

‘He did a lot for the LGBT community by making sure that gay rights are enshrined in the South African constitution more than any other president before him or after him.’

Mayema added: ‘A hero like him is very rare in this world, appearing once in an era. 

‘I hope the next South African presidents will keep ruling this country according to Mandela’s legacy and I hope that they know that if today South Africa is the most thriving country in Africa, it is because of that principle of human rights and freedom of all.’

Another quote from Mandela’s book reads: ‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.

‘People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’

Shaine Griqua, Director of LEGBO Northern Cape, told GSN Mandela was a ‘great man who played an outstanding role in shaping the diversity and tolerance of South Africa’.

‘He was gay frıendly and open to dıscuss LGBTI matters, I also knew he was a close frıend of Sımon Nkodi, who was jailed wıth the likes of Patrıck Lekota and others,’ Griqua said.

‘Mandela was one of the key people who wanted LGBTIs and other marginalized communities to be gıven space to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the South Afrıcan constitution.

‘We must recall that his whole life was dedicated to the freedom we enjoy today.

‘His death is a closure, and we should celebrate his legacy through acceptance and continuing to following his footsteps in promoting diversity and doing good advocacy work.’

Ndumie Funda, director of lesbians against corrective rape charity Luleki Sizwe, saluted Mandela as a ‘true, honest and humble leader, and a man of integrity’.

‘We will always love you,’ she said.

Jubulani Pereira, the Director of Iranti-Org, was born into apartheid.

‘I was born into a system of segregation, a system in which inferiority and the oppression of Black South Africans was downright evil,’ Pereira said.

‘He leaves a legacy of resilience and compassion that we as LGBTI persons must never forget, as our oppressors persistently impose hatred on us because of our sexual and gender identities.’

Melanie Nathan, an LGBTI and human rights advocate, who attended the same University as Mandela and practiced law in South Africa during apartheid, said:

‘I will remember Madiba, Nelson Mandela, as much more than the man behind the demise of that insidious apartheid, but also as a worldwide icon for democracy and peace, who insisted that never again would any group of South African be excluded from the dignity of full equality.

‘And so he ensured that the new South African Constitution specifically included sexual orientation and gender identity into its protections for all South Africans.

Throughout his life, Mandela urged people to fight for peace and equality.

He said: ‘The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.’

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Vatican lets off anti-gay Cardinal Keith O'Brien for sex with priests

Catholic Church reportedly believe an investigation is no longer warranted as the cardinal has apologized for his behavior
No thumbnail available

Missouri judge allows first same-sex divorce despite state ban on gay marriage

Dena and Samantha Latimer have become the first same-sex couple to legally divorce in Missouri in a landmark ruling despite that state’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages
No thumbnail available

Trans teen steps in front of train, commits suicide

A 17-year-old left his parting note on Instragram, telling his followers: 'I’m sorry I’m not the daughter you wanted'
No thumbnail available

Study shows UK gay men's HIV infection rate soars despite testing

Research shows that HIV testing and treatment failed to curb infection rates among UK gay and bisexual men
No thumbnail available

Guatemala says no to gay marriage

Otto Pérez Molina, president of Guatemala, says he is opposed to gay marriage, ahead of a discussion on the matter by the Organization of American States
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Putin signs ‘gay propaganda’ bill into law

Russian president has signed the nationwide bill, passed by the State Duma and Senate unanimously, into law. Many gay rights campaigners say it will incite hate crime and make homophobia legal
No thumbnail available

Star Trek 3 director: Open gay character ‘not necessary’

Roberto Orci says it would not be right to 'shoe-horn' in a character that was openly gay just for the sake of it
No thumbnail available

Spice Girls star reveals she's had sex with women

But did she scare any of them off?
No thumbnail available

9 gay-owned businesses to watch in 2014

These nine companies launched and operated by LGBTI individuals are brands we think should be on your radar if they aren't already