The first time I heard the words "lala gahle" was as a 5-year-old when my grandmother (known as "Gogo" to me and my siblings) put me to bed at night. She grew up on a farm in Zululand in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal, and spoke Zulu before she could speak English. After quizzing her on the meaning of the foreign bed-time message, she explained that she was wishing for us to sleep or rest well, just as her Zulu nanny had done for her when she was young.
This post is titled "Lala kahle" as Madiba was born to a Xhosa clan and kahle is the Xhosa equivalent of the Zulu gahle.
I've felt a lot of emotion today. Since waking to the news of Mandela's passing, he's dominated my thoughts. I got to work early and stuck up the poster (below) of his iconic face at the entrance to our office block. We put up a live-stream of a Mandela tribute to run all day and emailed the GetSmarter team to wish them well during the period of national mourning. Productivity is at an all-time low, but it doesn't matter. Today is a day like no other.
I found myself thinking about everything that is good in my life. I called my wife to tell her I love her. My mother phoned and I lingered a little longer than usual on the call. People in the office are more understanding, more tolerant today than they usually are. I get a sense of deep unity across the world's social networks today.
And the day after his departure it feels wrong to be thinking about anything other than what is incredibly good in our lives. What we can be thankful for. Such is the impact of Nelson Mandela's life.
Madiba, your example of what it means to be a great man will live with me forever. I hope it lives with others too - specifically our country's leaders, but equally importantly anyone who dares to achieve greatness.
Sleep well, Madiba.
P.S. Nando's said it well: