Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Chinua Achebe & other deaths that shook the world in 2013

by Rachel Ogbu


We wonder what Christmas in heaven will be like this year. On earth, while we celebrate the birth of Christ, we also mourn the passing away of people whose life and story changed the way we see the world.

In 2013, two mold-breaking former heads of state passed away. Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” of Britain died in April and Nelson Mandela, the “Global Peace Icon” from South Africa on December 5. They both were icons in their own rights and had led a remarkable life generations to come will always reflect upon.

The widow of Nelson Mandela Graca Machel wipes her tears
The widow of Nelson Mandela Graca Machel wipes her tears

But Nigerians were hit hard with grief when they received the news that the “father of literature” and renowned novelist, Chinua Achebe had died on March 21 at the age of 82.

Achebe’s death was very sad but he had lived a long life, unlike the death of singer Goldie Harvey which still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many. According to reports, the energetic and vibrant singer had suddenly slummed on Valentines Day. As if that wasn’t enough tragedy in a moth, about seven days later, the Nigerian entertainment industry also lost a veteran. Nollywood actor Justus Esiri who passed on February 19.

In March, the Founder of the World Soul-Winning Evangelistic Ministries (WOSEM) and leader of the Christ Apostolic Church, Prophet Timothy Oluwole Obadare passed on while Ekiti State was thrown into mourning after they lost their beautiful and well loved Deputy Governor Funmilayo Olayinka to cancer in April.

deji falae burial YNaija
Ondo state’s governor, Olusegun Mimiko could not hold back the tears at Deji Falae’s funeral

It was double tragedy and an all too familiar scenario for Nigerians when news that at least 14 people were killed in a plane crash which was conveying the corpse of former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Agagu to his resting place in April. Amongst those dead included the son of prominent Nigerian political leader, Olu Falae. Deji Falae, was a serving commissioner in Ondo State.

We guess one of the most puzzling deaths in 2013 which affected Nigerians directly and indirectly was that of British soldier Lee Rigby. The innocent soldier was killed by two Nigerian Islamic fanatics Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22 in the Woolwich area of London. The attacks were also similar to the ones in the Northern part of the country where thousands of people including children have been victims of the vicious circle where innocent people were brutally killed in terrorist related activities.

A woman kneels and prays at the scene of the first explosion on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe / Getty Images)

In another terrorist attack that shocked the world, runners and spectators in Boston where hit by two bomb explosions during the grand marathon event in Massachusetts, US.


On a global scale

Outside the country, the death of 51-year-old actor, James Gandolfini  was also a sad moment for the entertainment industry around the world.  “The Sopranos” star died from a heart attack on June 19 but before we could get over losing such great talent, in July, Glee actor Cory Monteith, 31 who had struggled for years with substance abuse gave up after an overdose of heroin and alcohol on the 13.

Another painful death was that of Lee Thompson Young, 29. actor who had starred in “The Famous Jett Jackson” , “Friday Night Lights” and the TV series “Rizzoli & Isles.” He was believed to have committed suicide on August 19. The charming Fast and Furious star actor Paul Walker died in a fiery car crash in Santa Clarita, Calif aged 40 on November 30.

Tyrese Gibson overcome with grief at crash site where his “Fast and Furious” co-star Paul Walker died

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