South Africa stands still, because in the face of death, nothing else matters.
This moment of reflection and honoring our great leader was desperately needed, and so, even in death, Nelson Mandela continues to serve South Africa.
I was 19 when my father died, but still it has taken a few years to truly become a man – the one I know he and God can look on with something vaguely approaching satisfaction; that I can at least claim to be on the right path toward that beacon, wherever it may be. The years since his death have been an education, the deepest of my young life.
South Africa is 19 years into democracy, still just a teenager, and our country’s father has just died. They say the best stories surround a great hero overcoming a mighty foe, and though Madiba was by no means alone, he was the head of the army, the accepted and acknowledged leader in the fight. Apartheid – the great scourge of our nation’s past, and during its existence, the stain on the world map. The stakes could not have been higher. We’ve seen and read about such tales of heroism, endurance and fortitude amid bloodshed, no, blood-flow, and death, strife, unimaginable pain and anguish.
We, South Africa were born out of a tormented and warped past, one still haunting us today, though more so the older generations.
But now that that demonic system of oppression lay like a vanquished enemy in the dust of history, the great hero who spear-headed the campaign, has taken his final bow. Apartheid called for a great leader to arise, and, in quiet calm dignity, he, Mandela, answered that call.
Now, when there are no more such evil enemies holding us captive, and no more heroes of Mandela's caliber left or required (stealing a glance at the fallen or slain greats like Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Goven Mbeki, Chris Hani and Steve Biko et al.), we are left, to ponder our own devices, to find our path, alone… and together. This is the season, potentially the realization of that dream a good few have spoken of; this great man will forever be a bastion of reference, his legacy a guiding light toward that dream we like to call, the African Renaissance.
I believe I speak for the vast majority of SA when saying that we all felt it deeply, even though we saw it coming (nothing can prepare you for that hollow chasm of grief)… it’s that sudden alarm, vague shock when your guiding light, the same light which was so strong in leading you out of the dark, even when hidden in a island dungeon - simply because we knew it remained... is then extinguished. And now we stand still, taking a moment to honour him, before we take those first steps into the unknown, in all our youth and vulnerability.
Madiba, you were among the best of us, and stamped the seal as our example, "We South Africans have had the uncommon luxury of outsourcing our morality to one of history’s giants, a man who was simply unable to disappoint." (from the article alluded to earlier)... but now, more than ever, is the time to live by those same morals, and hold one another accountable.
I salute you, Tata
Till we meet again
“The implication of that was if any of us take the witness box, we should take our cue (from Mandela’s speech)… Proclaim your political beliefs, don’t apologise, don’t ask for mercy. If there’s a death sentence, we will not appeal. That’s how Madiba was exemplary in whatever he did. He led from the front. No matter what the risks, he was right in front,” -- Ahmed Kathrada, struggle icon and fellow political Prisoner on Robben Island.
“He was, and by the time of his death, universally held to be a great man; he may well be the last of the great men as the concept of greatness retires into the historical shadows.” – JM Coetzee, novelist & recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Invictus - William Ernest Henley
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
... Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
“… we must also ask ourselves a question: What about the future? I think as we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, this becomes a central task, to ensure we do not betray what he and others sacrificed for.” – Former SA Pres. Thabo Mbeki
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