Waiting to Exhale

Well. The Twitterverse and Facebook users can finally exhale. After months of expectation, social media users are able to express their sorrow, show their angst, and wax poetic about the South African freedom fighter who passed from this life on December 5, 2013.

It’s not like we weren’t expecting it. In fact, when he first entered the hospital several months ago, everyone feared the worst. Most didn’t expect him to go home, and when he did, most expected that he would leave us very soon after.

That’s probably why Rihanna sent up prayers to heaven for him via tweet, an Australian government minister announced his passing during an official dinner, and a city council in Amsterdam observed a minute of silence to mark his death. All when he was still very much alive. Needless to say, there were numerous apologies, and the “follow-fashion” nature of Twitter (also known as “trending”), was blamed for the mistake.

No one can complain that Nelson Mandela didn’t get his flowers while he lived. He has been constantly celebrated since the day he walked free from prison in 1990, and during the time of his imprisonment. There have been numerous documentaries aired and articles written about the man and his struggle, and just recently, a movie starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, entitled “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was released.

I saw last week, an article written by former president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, which he titled, “Honoring Nelson Mandela”. In it, he reminisced about being the first American president to welcome Mr. Mandela to the White House. Maybe he knew something the rest of us didn’t, ‘cause he got in early. Today, in the same news portal that hosted his article, you’ll be tripping over the number of tributes and personal remembrances from other people, adding to the growing mass of flowers.

Facebook users were determined not to be outdone in their accolades. One person claimed that he/she would forever remember where and what he/she was doing on this day. Another, despite Mandela’s ill health felt the death as a blow to her system, and was feeling true sadness right now.

But it was Twitter that contained most of the gems.

Many tweeted his words. The quotes,”It always seems impossible until it’s done” and “If they learn to hate, they can be taught to love”, seemed the most popular ones.

And remembering the women behind the man, @cobbo3 tweeted, “Graca, Nelson, Winnie. Behind every great man, there are at least two great women.” As a woman, I have to say that I’m glad he knows the truth.

Grey’s Twerk Partner took some time off from twerking to say of Nelson Mandela, “He taught us”, while CarrieAnnie reminded us that we “lost 2 amazing people in less than a week”- since the death of Paul Walker of Fast and the Furious fame was still trending.

Even Jenny Craig provided one of his many quotes in the hope that it would inspire us. When I viewed it, I saw that it was indeed one that could inspire me to do my best – losing weight included. Nelson Mandela’s words seem suitable for just about any occasion. Pro-lifers, bloggers and supporters of the Palestinian people took the opportunity to bring light to their causes as well.

Copy Press Online attributed to Bishop Desmond Tutu this quote: “The sun won’t be as bright, but it will rise”, letting us know that life will go on without him.

We know that Mr. Mandela’s influence was far-reaching, and this was proven by a tweet from @Mr_Koucheki which said that Nelson Mandela “changed the world ending apartheid”. He acknowledged that he would not be forgotten even though he “didn’t drive fast cars”. Touching, don’t you think?

I’m a stickler for proper spelling, but I can forgive @DaCraicKing for not double-checking when he writes “A symbol of freedom has left us, but the heavens gained a real angle”, because I’m sure he was in a bit of a hurry to get his condolences in.

But lest you think that Nelson Mandela’s death would only elicit sadness and gloom, @GodfreyComedian riffed, “Right now Mandela is sitting next to God and God is asking “Can I get your autograph?”

And that is how social media grieved for the anti-apartheid fighter, peace-maker and great human being.

Now we can all take a deep breath and then, exhale.

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