MONTREAL — Nelson Mandela's nephew, Vuyani Gxoyiya, lives in a small northern Quebec town and recently came up short in a bid to become mayor.
Gxoyiya says the beloved former leader of South Africa had a profound impact on his life and taught him the meaning of liberty.
He said he hopes to fly to South Africa to attend his famous uncle's funeral services.
Gxoyiya, who lives in Rouyn-Noranda, didn't grow up with Mandela. He was born in 1962, shortly before the start of Mandela's 27-year prison sentence. Nonetheless, Gxoyiya learned about the revolutionary through photographs.
"My mother was very close to (Mandela)," Gxoyiya told QMI Agency. "She spoke to us about him a lot, about what he was doing, what he wanted. Us, as children, we dreamed of having dignity, liberty...we didn't want to feel like strangers in our own home."
The news of Mandela's death saddened Gxoyiya but didn't surprise him. Images of the late South African president's difficult final months in and out of hospital were broadcast around the world.
Mandela died Thursday night at age 95.
"Nelson Mandela continues to live in my spirit and I think it will always be like that," Gxoyiya said. "He won my liberty, the liberty of generations to come, and that doesn't have a price. Even now, I carry Mandela's principle of respecting people."