Nelson Mandela's life slowly slipped away this year. Reports that he was on a life-support machine, that President Jacob Zuma cancelled an overseas trip so he could visit Mandela and finally that the great man was somewhat better filled news headlines.
People knew, however, that his life was drawing to an end.
BBC News reports David Cameron's reaction to the news that Mr Mandela has died saying:
"UK Prime Minister David Cameron has paid tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has died aged 95. He said: "A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time." The flag above 10 Downing Street will be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect".
David Cameron though did not always believe that Mandela was a great man.
For many people in the west Mandela was an inspirational hero who helped to bring about positive change in South Africa; because of this I was shocked to read a foul-mouthed, racially motivated rant accompanying a group's posting on Facebook a few months ago. The posting was a sensible summoning up of David Cameron in relation to Mandela and is something we in the UK should bear in mind now that Mr Mandela has died and Cameron has jumped on the tribute bandwagon.
It was a quote which read: Peter Thomson:
"Nelson Mandela will die soon. Today, tomorrow, this week, next week. It won't be long. Remember this, he out-lived Thatcher. When he does die, and David Cameron on the Mandela bandwagon, remember that in 1985 he was a top member of the Federation of Conservative Students, which produced the "Hang Mandela" posters. In 1989, Cameron worked in the Tory Policy Unit at Central Office and went on an anti-sanctions fact-finding mission to South Africa with a pro-apartheid lobby firm sponsored by PW Botha. Remember this when he tells the world he was inspired by Madiba".
It highlights perfectly the hypocrisy of many when it comes to the dead and the dying. When Margaret Thatcher died this year many people were shocked that street parties celebrating her death were held in parts of the North of England. Some people were more shocked that the old Wizard of Oz song, "Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead", looked set to make the top of the UK singles chart.
Those people abroad who did not experience first hand the negative policies of the Thatcher era perhaps found it hard to believe that many people wanted to hold protests on the day of her funeral. The protests though were somewhat restrained and controlled. The point was that this was an honest reaction to an overzealous and damaging politician. It lacked hypocrisy.
It is not just that times have changed in the UK but rather that Thatcher was a "one-off". It is doubtful that any other UK Prime Minister would be disrespected in such a way. She, however, earned the disrespect, Nelson Mandela did not.
One person leaving a comment on the Facebook posting reported the comment thread but if it is still visible you can find it here. One or two Internet trolls trying to play the funny man or woman, whilst proving that they do not posses a brain cell between them, kept posting obscene and abusive comments.
It makes you despair of humanity. It should also make you pause for thought before you begin a foul-mouthed rant in response to a sensible posting. In this case once again those spouting drivel were hiding behind a false identity.
It is sad that Mr Mandela's time has come; it is sad that many people in the west now live their lives in sound-bytes; it is tragic that a man who fought hard for the freedom of others was belittled and abused on his death-bed, but I guess it is always about perception.
One man's terrorist is another man's hero in the end, and vice versa.
Rest easy Madiba. For me he was always a hero. RIP