Nelson Mandela square

Nelson Mandela square

Hero and role model - at the Nelson Mandela Square

Among all the new sights, sounds and experiences of Johannesburg, Basetsana (15) and her friend Precious (14) are drawn to the huge bronze statue of their hero and role model, Nelson Mandela.

His face is on the television, in their schoolbooks and on the covers of books. Mr Mandela is the person South Africans so often talk about. He is revered for his wise and steady leadership of the nation after the fall of apartheid.

They dance in and out of the huge legs of the statue, hug it and peer up at the face of the man they admire.

Poignant moment

Their visit to Nelson Mandela Square took place long before Mr Mandela's death in December 2013. Nevertheless, the moment was a poignant one as Mr Mandela was sick at the time, and the girls show their concern in the video.

For a nation which still needs a figurehead, there were tears and fears among those gathered in the square that day. South Africans longed to feel close to the man they call 'Tata Madiba' or 'Father of the Madiba' (the clan of which he is a member).

Basetsana and Precious know that his clan name is much more important than his surname, referring as it does to his ancestry. Madiba was  the name of a Thembu chief who ruled in the Transkei in the 18th century. It is a sign of respect to use a person's clan name and the girls want to express their admiration.