Brent Stirton: A Native Son’s Ode To Nelson Mandela

From National Geographic Photographers Expound on the Power of Photography

I am a South African who lives abroad, based in a place far from my own country. They say you carry your land in your heart, but it’s not true—you forget what makes your country unique if you spend too much time away.

I experienced that with bittersweet clarity this week, watching an endless flow of united South Africans make their way to places of tribute all over this land. Determined people traveling to ensure that they paid respects to a man they call the father of our nation, the man who pioneered the new patriotism in this unique country. It was enchanting—people of every shade and persuasion making their way to these points to ensure a last, lingering connection to the unifier that was Nelson Mandela.
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