News, Politics

“A Great Tree Has Fallen” – Nelson Mandela Laid To Rest


Image: Government ZA
A photo collage of the late Nelson Mandela. Image: Government ZA

The father of South Africa was laid to rest on Sunday.

Nelson Mandela was an international icon who fought for peace and reconciliation.

During his life, he affected millions of people. He helped bring about the elimination of “apartheid” in South Africa.

Mandela died on December 5 at the age of 95.

On Sunday, he was given a state funeral, in his home village of Qunu, followed by a private graveside ceremony.

It was fitting that his coffin was carried by blacks and by whites. Mandela fought for the rights of black people in South Africa and to end the separation of blacks and whites in his country.

Mandela was South Africa’s first black president, in 1994. He had spent 27 years in prison for his political activities, fighting for the rights of black South Africans.

His funeral included many modern traditions as well as tribal African traditions.

Associated Press reported that Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, a representative of Mandela’s family, declared, “A great tree has fallen; he is now going home to rest with his forefathers. We thank them for lending us such an icon.”

The burial ended 10 days of mourning for Mandela, including a memorial service on December 10, which was attended by many of the world’s leaders and celebrities.

A scandal marred the memorial service; it was discovered that the man who was doing the live translation of the speeches into sign language (for hearing impaired people) was signing gibberish. The man, who stood next to world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama as they spoke at the service, was moving his hands and arms about as though he was translating. However, people who understand sign language said his hand movements made no sense. The man, Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Reuters news agency that he is not a fake and that he does know sign language but that he has a mental illness that affected his actions that day.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Nelson Mandela’s life–with its many ups and downs–was truly an inspirational one. Who inspires you?
Whose legacy makes you believe that anything is possible?

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies
Twice in this article, Mandela is called an “icon.” Find out the meaning of the word “icon.” Which of the meanings you found do you think is meant here? Why?

Primary, Junior, & Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature: Metaphor
A metaphor is a type of comparison. It tells how one thing is like something else. It does not use words such as “like” or “as.” Instead, it makes a comparison by stating what something is. For example, “The snow is a white blanket on the field.”

Explain the metaphor reported in today’s article, “A great tree has fallen.”

Media Literacy: Production Perspectives
When journalists cover an event such as Mandela’s funeral, they will often receive information and photos. In this case, South Africa’s Government and Communication Information System created a website letting journalists know the details of the event and how they could cover it. Take a look at this media update on the funeral and think about how journalists go about covering a big event such as a state funeral.