Africa’s ICT industry responds to Mandela’s passing

Former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Image source:

News of the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela on 05 December 2013 has flooded worldwide communication channels, with social networks representing the medium of choice for many to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences – including those of companies across the spectrum of Africa’s ICT sector.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Image source:
Former South African President Nelson Mandela. (Image source:

Mandela passed away at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, just before midnight, surrounded by family. President Jacob Zuma made an official announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to the country saying “Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba their own. We will always love you Madiba… may your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa.”

In South Africa, telecommunication companies Cell C, MTN and Telkom issued statements.The MTN Group conveyed its heartfelt condolences to the Mandela family, and the people of South Africa and the world on the passing away of former President Nelson Mandela yesterday.

“Former President Mandela leaves behind a rich legacy of reconciliation, world peace and the triumph of the human spirit over all adversity. He embodied the spirit of human rights and dignity in the way he lived his own life,” says Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN Group President and CEO.

The Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Telkom join the nation in mourning the passing on of Nelson Mandela.

Chairman of the Board, Mr Jabu Mabuza, said: “The announcement of Mr Mandela’s death has had a deep and profound impact on members of his family, on his countless friends and comrades, on the citizens of South Africa, and on people across the globe. It is with a heavy heart that we offer our condolences to his immediate family and to the wider family of South Africa. May you all gather strength and courage as we mourn the loss of the Father of our Nation.”

Meanwhile Cell C has stated, “It is with a heavy heart that Cell C must say farewell to our beloved former president, hero and father of the nation, Nelson Mandela. We will all remember him for his courage, unwavering strength, his ability to look past people’s faults and his kindness and generosity.Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the nation.”

From Rwanda, MTN stated: “As MTN celebrates Mandela’s life and legacy, let us all remember his words: “The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.”

Airtel Kenya posted this message:  “#RIPNelsonMandela. Celebrate Madiba’s by inspiring others to move beyond fear and embrace courage”

While Safaricom stated “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again ― Nelson Mandela. Rest In Peace Madiba.”

Additionally, membership of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has responded with a statement: “ITU membership, management and staff join the people of South Africa and the whole world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary South African anti-apartheid leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and who is hailed as one of the most transforming personalities the world has ever seen.”

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré expressed his profound sadness and extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government and people of South Africa. “I have personally looked up to Mandiba for inspiration, as nothing in the world could ever daunt him or hold him back from his life’s mission to free his compatriots from the yoke of apartheid,” Dr Touré said. “His towering personality will leave a lasting impression on me, and the world will forever enjoy the legacy he has left behind in an atmosphere of peace, humility and forgiveness.”

Social networks flooded

In addition to tribute websites being established, social networks including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been inundated with postings.

On Twitter, #RIPNelsonMandela, #RememberingMandela, #respect, #Legend and nation have all been trending, with the site dominated by postings and re-tweets.

Samples of private postings and those of organisations include “Your Long Walk of Freedom has come to an end but we will soldier on. A man of true advocacy x”; One of the greatest man to walk on this planet”; and “Not just South Africa but today whole world has a lost a great leader”.

On Facebook profiles continue to be dominated by news and messages posted, along with images and videos. The site is said to have 2.2 million likes.

News sites also made reference to the iconic YouTube video of musician Johnny Clegg singing ‘Asimbonanga’ in 1999 which is also being shown on Facebook.

Chris Tredger – Online Editor