‘Mandela was a man for all seasons’

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela was honoured as the National Press Club-North West University's Newsmaker of the Year for 2013 on Thursday night.

“We are not commemorating his death, but celebrating the life of a world icon and legend, as well as his role as an international statesman.

Nelson Mandela was a leader of substance, he did not need pamphlets in newspapers to show that he was a leader that built a better South Africa. He showed by doing, says the writer. File picture: Mike Hutchings. Credit: Reuters

“Nelson Mandela’s death riveted the attention of the world for 10 days,” club chairman Jos Charle said at the awards event in Pretoria.

“It consumed South Africans - and much of the world - as the country pulled out all stops to bury the father of the South African nation with military precision and ancient Xhosa customs.”

Charle said the world's news media extensively reported on Mandela's life and his role in South Africa's liberation struggle.

Mandela died in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013, and was buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on December 15.

“One hour after the announcement of his death, two million tweets were generated with over six million tweets recorded on 5 December, the day of his death,” said Charle.

“The hashtags #RIPNelsonMandela, #Madiba and #RIPMandela were the top three topics on the social network on that morning - at one stage 95 000 tweets per minute - more than 13 million over a month.”

He said the Facebook page for the former statesman gathered over 2.2 million likes.

When Mandela was sick with a recurring lung infection, media camped outside his hospital for 86 days last year, he said.

“The best known black man in the world and probably the most photographed man in the world certainly leaves behind a living legacy - truly a man for all seasons,” he said.

Vice-Principal of North-West University Professor Herman van Schalkwyk said it was important that media freedom be acknowledged and encouraged the independence and high standards of ethical journalism.

The award is made based on impact, news value and attention given in electronic, print, online and social media.

The club has named Nelson Mandela as its newsmaker before. Previous recipients include President Jacob Zuma, former presidents FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki, actress Charlize Theron, Eskom, EFF leader Julius Malema and, in 2012, the South African rhino. - Sapa