My memories take me back to when I was a child in India, to class IV current events class, where I first learned about the cruelty and viciousness of apartheid. And then to my days at Florida State University, where I protested apartheid and urged divestment. The demonstrations over investments in South Africa matured me in so many ways. To February 11, 1990, when Mandela was released from prison. I could not take my eyes away from CNN, tears streaming down my face. It was as all the world had been freed. To the day in 2010 when I finally visited South Africa. Soweto and Robben Island were my two top destinations.

I stood in Mandela’s cell. Tried to imagine…

What a tower of a man he was. His name was synonymous with words that describe the very best of mankind. Courage. Virtue. Goodness. Strength. Love. Dedication. Honesty. Conviction. Fortitude. Brilliance. Soulful.

Moni Basu, Atlanta-based journalist for CNN, in her blog post: Rest in Peace, Madiba | Evil Reporter Chick

Moni Basu writes:

I realized then that I had never even thought that Ron might die. Even though he had cancer. He was lucid that day, his spirits strong. He even laughed, the way he used to on the 6th floor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newsroom. It was the kind of laugh that echoed through the hallways and was instantly recognizable. It was comforting, like a mother’s embrace. And reassuring – it made me feel that everything would be all right.

I graduated from high school in Tallahassee. And earned both my degrees from Florida State University. Every hard lesson I learned about life was learned in the house off Chapel Drive and in apartments I rented along Pensacola Street. Or in late-night sessions at the Grand Finale and the Office Lounge. And in classrooms in the Bellamy Building and the newsroom of The Florida Flambeau. My mother suffered a stroke there, an event that changed all our lives overnight. I was married and divorced there. And by the time the 1980s were coming to a close, I felt claustrophobic and yearned to pack up my red Toyota pickup and race out of town.

That day came soon after and for the past two decades, Tallahassee has just been a place for me to visit occasionally, a place where I can never get lost on streets that remain familiar and yet, feel like a stranger every single time.