Africans living in Germany mourn Nelson Mandela | Africa | DW | 09.12.2013
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Africans living in Germany mourn Nelson Mandela

The death of Nelson Mandela affected many people around the world. Africans in Germany were also deeply moved by the news.

Some South Africans here say they are sad to be so far away from home at this time. Africans in Germany say they prefer to celebrate his life rather than grieve over his death. For many of them he remains a hero.

It is a normal business day in Munich, but not for the South African Consulate. The office was busy receiving well-wishers who wanted to express sympathy and their condolences.

South Africa's Consul General in Munich, Mathula Magubane, told DW she was numb when she first heard the news of Madiba's death. She has fond memories of him and what she calls the 'Madiba Jive.'

"He was such a multifaceted man. I would say my favorite thought is him doing what we called the Madiba Jive. Him dancing and chatting with children," she said.

People from all walks of life have been stopping off at the consulate in the southern German city to sign the condolence book. It is on a table in the visitors' waiting room with a vase of white flowers, the South African flag, a candle and a photo of a smiling Nelson Mandela.

"One can't help remembering him as the first democratically elected president of South Africa and what that meant in that one man," one visitor told DW.

Many of those coming to pay their respects are South Africans who live in Munich. Andre Thomas from Cape Town has been living and working in Munich for several years. He says it makes him sad that he cannot be with his fellow countrymen at this time. He recalls Nelson Mandela's struggle and also experienced history in the making. "I was in the crowd on the day that Madiba was released from prison. It's one of the most important days in my life," he told DW.

Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990 after 27 years was a moment to remember not only in the lives of South Africans but also of people around the world who supported his fight against apartheid. It was one of those moments that Thomas cannot easily forget. For him, as for many others, Mandela is a role model.

"The fact that he taught us to be compassionate is something that we must never ever forget," Thomas told DW.

In an African food store in downtown Munich, it was business as usual. But mentioning Nelson Mandela's death triggered strong responses from African customers.

"He embodies fatherhood. He has shown us a light which we need to emulate," Oduwa Akpomuje, a German citizen of Nigerian origin told DW.

Idris Aman Usammah from Eritrea said Mandela was a good man, who did a lot for his people. "He fought against racism in the whole world. He was a great person," he told DW.

Tchalaki Akilo from Togo said, "He is a great person for all of us from Africa. He is a hero." A sentiment evidently shared by many Africans living in Germany.

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