Standing in the queue to view Tata Madiba's body gave me butterflies that I don't expect to feel even seconds before going on air for any live broadcast!
Those in the queue were so cooperative -- everyone there knowing that we were all feeling the same loss. Even the security personnel guiding the crowd were soft and not 'rough and tough' as one would expect. One of the officers told a man to lend his jersey to a woman behind him to cover her shoulders. No fuss! Then an elderly woman supported by two others stood next to me and all she said over and over again was "God is great".
Then, with my heart pounding, my colleague Iman (Rappetti) and I walked through. We turned to Mandla Mandela and you can't help but feel that he looks like a lost little boy! He nodded at us and acknowledged us. And then I turned to my left and it was a surreal moment. Madiba was lying peacefully but statuesque.
He is a giant, even in death, and it broke my heart to think he missed so much of his life sacrificing, missed his children grow up and their moments of victory. As a parent I could not imagine being away from my children for any amount of time, let alone 27 years! And so I have so much to be grateful for!
There hasn't been much time to think about how we feel about Madiba's passing this past week. Like most media, eNCA has been going through the hard work to try our best to reflect how South Africans have been feeling and how loved he was.
Everybody has a Madiba moment! Mine was in 2002. I had come to Talk Radio 702 for a job interview, fresh from Durban. And as I walked in I saw some very important looking men. And then I found out that Madiba was there for an interview! Well, call it Madiba magic or luck but I got the job!
Then, there are so many others who didn't get their moment but wish they'd at least tried because Madiba as we now know was more than happy to mingle with his people of South Africa. One of them is my mom. She called me this week and said, "You know Uv, there were so many times I wanted to call you and ask if you could organise for me to have a cup of tea with Mandela." You see, Madiba and my mom share a birthday -- the 18th of July. I asked my mom why she didn't ever voice her desire. "That would have been so special and we could have made a plan," I said to her. It would have been the one time my mother would have been pleased that I became a journalist and not a doctor!
Regardless of whether or not you've actually touched Nelson Mandela, you certainly have been touched by him at some point in your life.
Seeing him today will live with me forever. A few seconds in time, but a memory for a lifetime!