2 years on – my post then on Mr. Mandela’s death. Yesterday, here in South Africa there were various commemorations going on, past clips on TV. I thought I’d check out my post from 2 years ago, and am re-posting it today –

Our absent father – o how we all need leaders such as he in these troubled times – peace and reconciliation –

 I woke up to the news at 7.00 a.m. this past Friday here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It seems that many had heard the news in different parts of the world before we did. The announcement was officially made some hours after his death at 8.50 p.m on Thursday night.

Did it ‘help’ that we had been expecting his death for a long while now? No, not really. Death is always sudden and shocking – it’s so final –

Friday was wet and cool. I was in my car much of the time; hearing people call in to the radio station expressing their shock and sadness was a release valve for me. I was in tears most of the morning with ongoing pangs somewhere in the region of my heart. I got to the clinic for my afternoon shift just before 1.00 and saw a prominently placed large table inside the clinic with a large head and shoulder framed photograph of Mr. Mandela placed against the wall. There were zillions of small, already burnt candles on the table. Again, that pang – I looked for a lighter but there wasn’t one. The girls at the rooms said that earlier in the morning all the candles were lit and the entire staff of the clinic had gathered around the table singing and swaying. Pat and Lyn said they had never heard anything quite so beautiful or seen anything quite so moving. I can only imagine – plaintive, beautiful singing, chorus, dancing, ululating –

 I remember that day on 27th April 1994 when we cast our vote, black and white, voting for a democratic South Africa for which we had fought so long and hard. O such a day of celebration! – those long, long queues from early morning to late at night, walking alongside fellow human beings to cast our votes, the majority of whom had been denied the vote since 1948. Also, such celebration when he was released from prison in February 1990. We came alight and alive. Such a sense of rightness and gladness, a sense of practical freedom at last in the air, each having a vote, breaking from the bonds of apartheid, and separateness. Voting for Mr. Mandela as president of our beloved country. ‘Never’, said he, ‘Never again. Never again will we have one claiming superiority over another ..’ *

I saw former President Thabo Mbeki addressing people at Oxford Road Synagogue last evening wearing a yarmulke, on TV, emphasising the need to remember Mr. Mandela’s life and all that he stood for; and to remember the constitution as the struggle continues for inter alia economic freedom.

The spotlight on him during his lifetime will be on him again as people from all corners of the world come to pay tribute to him and to mourn his passing. 85 current heads of state as I write, 10 past heads of state, royalty, dignitaries, eminences, the famous, celebrities .. …

We celebrate his life at the same time. A beautiful paradox. Or, if not a paradox, most certainly a bringing together of those two seeming contradictions. We mourn the passing of Mr. Nelson Mandela, and celebrate his magnificent life, for which we are in eternal gratitude. As we mourn our loss, so are we celebrating his life. There is a reconciling of those two powerful emotions, coming together in a magical way, uniting our nation. Us, as South Africans. We, as people. It is a shared pain. And a shared remembrance of all that he stood for. Prepared to sacrifice his life no less. There is unity amongst us, of all shades and hues, of all ages, now, as a nation, as we mourn and celebrate.

The world is arriving on our doorstep here in South Africa. It’s already begun. We have MAJOR security issues to attend to. We must deal with all unprecedented, convoluted logistics in a practical way as we are about to experience a particularly large event in history.

Mr. Mandela will be laid to rest on Sunday, at his home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the Wild Coast, the Transkei – on the other side of the Kei River. He was born into royalty of the Xhosa clan, of the abaThembu tribe in Mvezo; his father was deposed as chief magistrate when Mr. Mandela was 5 years old, and Qunu became their refuge and home. He had a happy childhood it seems and developed a deep love for the Transkei and its land, people and Nature. Qunu will be descended upon by thousands, including the villagers from that rural area and further afield. There is a memorial service tomorrow at the FNB stadium, more commonly known as Soccer Stadium, in which we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup. There will be thousands and thousands of common people, people like me, as well as heads of state and dignitaries and attendant security. I trust we will rise to this monumental practical task of ensuring security and smoothness for all.

Imagine, on the outer level, as an act of homage to our Madiba –

It is not the time for anxiety right now. We have a common purpose in celebrating and mourning and our attention needs to be there. It is a loss, to each of us in some real way, to our country as a collective, to the wider world …

I would imagine that from next week when all have left to return home, and when the dust begins to settle, we will, as South Africans, sigh a collective breath. But when we gather our  breath again, will we continue to honour Madiba and all that he stood for?

We will have to take a deep collective breath of courage when the dust is at least partly settled. We have huge issues ahead. The freedom of the press is under dire threat. As I write, the owner of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings who recently bought Independent News and Media PIC (for a cost of $194 million) has fired the executive editor from The Cape times for reporting on alleged corruption within – just this past Friday. Our public protector Thuli Madonsela is under fire from parliament and the government for her exposure of corruption in the government. We have gantries for road users that have just come into effect about which we are protesting. We have an election looming next year. There is much else that is of great concern. Education is an ongoing worry and a disaster for the masses.

But, for the moment, it is not a time for anxiety about those matters. It will be though, and we will continue the struggle in Mr. Nelson Mandela’s name. It is necessary to make Mr Mandela’s name continue to be an inspiration to us – keep him alive as a symbol of reconciliation.

I hope that we as South Africans, will rise to this, once the dust drops. It won’t be easy. Hopefully, those who have visited from different parts of the globe will also let his name continue to inspire – we are grateful for your outpouring of shared grief and respect.

Hambe Gahle, Madiba. Go well, rest in peace. We will never forget you. We will honour your legacy. Thank you.

* My son met him some years ago at his home in Houghton when his school jazz band performed for him. He was fit and well and my son knows that he was hugely privileged to have Mr. Mandela shake his hand and beam on him. He made this song some years later in honour of Madiba’s birthday last year in July 2012.

The link below is ‘The Kifnness’ recording of ‘Never Again’. http://soundcloud.com/thekiffness/the-kiffness-never-again

35 Comments on Mandela 2 Year Anniversary of Death

  1. “Hambe Gahle, Madiba. Go well, rest in peace.”

    An inspiring piece, Susan. Thank you.

    South Africa has been a huge inspiration. Mandela managed to survive the ugliest without hatred in his heart. I bow to him for that alone, and he did so much more. Such huge problems in South Africa, but somehow Mandela inspired everyone with the need to make the impossible possible. Music doesn’t work with my ears, but I’ll try to listen anyway. My kids had the honor of meeting the Dalai Lama many times in their boyhood and it left a huge impression on both of them. I sense Mandela would do the same to a young man.

    Have you ever seen the video of the Dalai Lama watching and clapping and grinning from ear to ear as Desmond Tutu danced? I’m grateful for the luminaries who remain.

    • Thanks Elaine for coming by. In spite of the dreadful shenanigans going on in our country over the last several years and even more so just lately, we remain inspired by all that Madiba stood for. He truly was our beacon and long-lost hope for a united South Africa. When Mandela beamed, the world beamed with him.

      I know that anyone coming into the Dalai Lama’s orbit would feel that they were in the presence of a luminary – your sons, you and Vic were blessed to have met him.

      Yes, I’ve seen that video of our past Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama! It makes me smile just to think of it 🙂

  2. A beautiful tribute. Thank you. I did not realize he had been born into royalty. I know so little about him. I also listened to your son’s song of dedication. Wow is all I can say. I am now listening to more of Kiffness as I type. You must be proud 🙂

    • Thanks Sharon. Glad you like Davey’s tribute and his music. Have you heard his broccoli song and video? From a long time ago already …That’ll bring a smile to anyone!

  3. Mandela was incredible person – I believe people such as him are seen once – or maybe, if we are very lucky – twice in a lifetime. What an amazing legacy he has!

    I can only imagine how painful it was for South Africa to lose him. The entire world still mourns his passing.

    Beautiful, heartfelt post Susan. Peace.

    • Thanks so much J.H. Yes, we still believe in our rainbow nation though it doesn’t shine so brightly right now .. many want to douse the flame of Mandela. Much good work still continues to be done in his name .. Peace to you too and around the world.

  4. What a beautiful post Susan. I’m glad you re-posted it, not only because it’s lovely in itself, but because I think it’s important to remember and celebrate and in that way invoke the spirit of the things Mr. Mandela worked so diligently to infuse in our world. He is missed indeed. And what a great song.

    • Thank you so much Deborah! That’s my motive really, to be reminded. We have an extreme left wing opposition party trying to bring Mr. Mandela down, saying that he sold out to the whites. Ah, well … it’s sad that this sort of thing happens. I’m so pleased you liked the song!! I’ll let Davey know … he’ll be pleased too …

  5. What a lovely post, thank you for re-posting it. So many important messages here, but ultimately it’s very powerful reading about events from someone who was there. Thank you.

    Loved your son’s song, by the way. How wonderful he got to meet such a great man.

    • Thanks Sara. Just a thought as I write this – in September I was travelling in Turkey. There was a young woman from Mexico, Gabriellla, on the tour … she had done economics in London and was in South Africa on some exchange and was here when Mr. Mandela died. Even as she was telling me this, we felt the sadness and had to choke back tears. She was absolutely bowled over to be in South Africa and feel the grief over the death of this much loved man…

      Glad you liked the song!!

  6. what a beautiful post Susan; and so nice to read. Mr Mandela was truly an inspiration and am glad to be reading about him in this post. Beautiful people never die, they continue to live in our lives and influences us even in their absence. May his death anniversary remind us to always be courageous, tolerant, preserver and stand by what we believe… thanks for sharing, I wanted to hear the song, but couldn’t there is some problem, shall ask my daughter to help when she returns form school. thanks for sharing the link.

    • Thanks Genevive so much – and for reminding us that great and beautiful people even they may be physically dead and no longer with us, are still with us – it’s such a lovely paradox, that they’re present in their absence.

      I hope you can have a listen to the song … I think you daughter would also love it:)

  7. Hi Susan – I remember learning about and watching his release, his humbleness – the standards he set … sadly some did not follow his leadership role …. so even more sadly the South African peoples haven’t been as benefited as they should have been – and that potential was there.

    I’ve read Zelda la Grange’s book on her time with him – that was interesting. I also have ‘Conversations with Self’ that I need to read. I’ve read Long Walk to Freedom .. and seen the films etc …

    He still, through his life, as much to give us – even as each year passes by … He was a very humble, very compassionate and very understanding man … I could say more – but he will always ‘stand above’ many – though he would say he is with the many.

    I did write a blog post in the A-Z format – two years ago … so I could bring in lots of snippets.

    He will be a man who stands astride shoulders, probably for many decades and centuries.

    Thanks for reminding us that this was the time … Hilary

    • Thank you for your lovely memories of him Hilary. Yes, sadly our current president is an embarrassment (to put it mildly). I like how you say about Mr. Mandela i.e. ‘stand above’ and also ‘with the many’ – this is exactly how he was. A giant …

  8. Never too many times to honor such a great human being. He really knew the meaning of respect for all. We still can learn so much from him.
    Thank you.

  9. Yes, Susan, your post is quite nostalgic and beautiful. What a sad day to lose such a powerful leader who also had a loving heart. I truly wish the United States could find a leader as wonderful. Thank you for the loving memories.

    • thanks Gwynn. He was certainly honoured over these last few days. I can never tire of old TV clips of him. His voice and presence was very real.

  10. Oh, how we need more leaders with a heart for reconciliation and peace. I agree with Jacqui above when she drew a parallel to the message of Dr. Martin Luther King. Our world needs a “deep collective breath of courage” during this season and in the coming year. Thank you, Susan.

    • Thank you Marian. Dr. Martin Luther King and his message appears to be undergoing a revival these days, at least in what comes across my news feed … and this is so good. I also sense that as a collective we’re saying enough is enough and saying it loudly that our politicos and others are surely getting the message? Maybe not – denial is so strong –

  11. A beautiful, stirring post Susan that speaks to many hearts and souls! What brilliance and inspiration Nelson Mandela was and continues eternally to be. Thank you so much for reposting this article Susan and sharing your grief and sadness at the news of his death. Mandela touched the lives of millions and inspired the world with his deep, wise words.

    In reading your post I am once again reminded of how, like many, I held my breath that day back in 1994, praying and praying for the right outcome and when it came, weeping and weeping with ecstatic joy! Beautiful, fitting tribute. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

    • Thank you Deborah. We truly knew we were blessed as a nation during his 4 years as our President. May he not be forgotten of which there is always a danger. His wife who he married when he was 80, Graca Machel (widowed wife of Samora Machel who was president many many years ago of Mocambique, a neighbouring country) is like her name, graceful. He knew real happiness with her.

  12. Heart-wrenching AND beautiful post, Susan. I hear the grief, the loss, the sadness through your words. I also have a sense of hope, joy and transformation in the legacy that this great man had left behind. So glad for your son – wow, what a privilege to meet his amazing man.

    • Thank you Gulara! 2 years on – we’re still in the dwang here in SA. I know that ‘dwang’ is an unusual word … you can imagine what it means. But, Mr. Nelson Mandela continues to be an inspiration. His legacy will never be forgotten.

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