Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
It was as if even the heavens were sorry to see him go. No sooner did the Reverend Dr Marjorie Lewis first mention the name Nelson Mandela, the rains came down - Mother Nature's way of shedding her tears for a great man.
At a memorial service yesterday, those who gathered at the University Chapel in Mona, and more specifically, under the tents outside it, received the showers of blessings as a significant part of the occasion. At every clap of thunder, persons outside shouted "Mandela", opining it was a fitting farewell.
Jamaicans, South Africans and members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps representing various other countries attended.
Mathu Joyini, South African high commissioner to Jamaica, acknowledged the welcome down-pour before delivering a message from the government and people of her homeland. It was a sincere thanks for the "tremendous support, solidarity and bonds of friendship".
"We have been comforted by your calls," she said, referring to the high commission. "We have always known Jamaicans loved Madiba like he was their own son."
She said Mandela was a gift from God and will always be loved for, among other things, his stubborn sense of justice.
"He fought so we … can have a better life," she said. "He fought for our dignity."
MAN OF HONOUR
An admittedly nervous Victor Mkhize, a South African national living in Jamaica, aptly started with a Mandela quote "the brave man is not he who feels afraid, but he who conquers that fear." He called Mandela "a man of honour, humility and selflessness".
"We, as a country, are truly fortunate to have had a person of his stature," he said.
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J. Patterson underlined Jamaica's efforts in lobbying for the abolition of apartheid, a system which kept black South Africans in subjugation.
"The people of Jamaica saw Mandela's fight as their own," said Patterson, lauding Mandela for solidifying the resistance movement from behind his prison bars. But he opined that after his release "only then did the true measure of the man emerge".
Patterson said Mandela insisted on reconciliation and forgiveness "at times at the dismay of many in his movement, who would have sought revenge against their former oppressors".
"The memory of this giant will surely endure throughout the ages to come," he said.