Posts Tagged ‘revolutionary’

Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Nelson Mandela

An Icon of Truth and Reconciliation has passed away and a nation, yea the world, mourn his passing. He was the grandfather image to every child. He was the inspiration for several generations. He wasn’t a saint but he was a pragmatic seer who helped a people avert a race war that could have killed hundreds of thousands. South Africa has many systemic problems but racial hatred is not a major problem. Now that he has passed from the scene will the ghosts of the past resurrect and haunt the soul of a nation? Only time will tell.

What do I remember of his time? He was a trouble maker fighting for the rights of his people (and justly so). When the apartheid laws were passed, and the oppressed peoples organized, violence began to bloom in ways not too dissimilar than what was experienced by others around the world. The “African National Congress” was formed and they had a militant wing. Coloured people made national protest, the police met this with a hard and sometimes murderous hand. Our peace loving Mandela took up arms and a revolutionary was born. He was caught early enough in his campaign, charged with treason and jailed, before the terror escalated and the image of riots were broadcast around the world. I remember seeing Winnie Mandela shake a box of matches… and the necklaced victims. Police vehicles going through black camps firing their weapons. The dead and dying: white, black and mixed blood.

In prison, on Robin Island, Mandela still fought, but using passive resistance, to improve the lot of black prisoners. He read a poem and the seed of the pragmatist was planted.


Out of the night that covers me,
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.

William Ernest Henley

Mandela read about the national freedom won by other African nations. He saw how the lies kept people in darkness and a call for vengeance made black on white and black on black atrocities the norm as violence tore away what little national life blood remained. Truth; the good, bad and ugly; had to be placed before the light of day. Reconciliation, not the meaningless lip service of an easily spoken “forgive me” but the honest approach to mend and build… yea, to forge a new relationship with those who despised you, hurt you, killed you was needed. That was what Mandela brought to the negotiating table. That is what he brought to the nation. That is what healed the people.

Mandela… the man