Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mandela – using the A – Z format ...

I don’t think there can be many in the world who are not aware that Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter to President of South Africa, died on 5th December 2013 ...
RIP Nelson Mandela
(1918 - 2013)

I could write loads ... but there has been sufficient, perhaps an elegant over-sufficiency of words, tv, radio et al ... so I will just add my take to all the other outpourings, or restrained commentary ...

A is for Adjectives ... are there any other superlatives that have not been used in the last ten days ...

A is for Anti-apartheid ... and African National Congress (ANC) – founded as the SA Native National Congress (SANNC) in January 1912 becoming the ANC in 1923.

B is for Boxing – Mandela was a heavyweight boxer before taking up arms to fight the cause;  he did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it ...

His cell in Robben Island

C is for Cruelty ... conditions of treatment ...

C is for Colossus and Courageous – the man who united rich and poor, black and white, and in the process of leadership, since his release, has taught the human race the power of forgiveness.

C is for the Children’s Hospital, a long held dream of his ... it will open late next year and will be a 200-bed facility providing world-class paediatric care.  He loved children and was particularly happy in their company.

C is for Charity - he carefully selected the charities and causes he would support ... ‘HIV/Aids’, ‘Make Poverty History’, the ‘Children’s Fund’ and the ‘Nelson Mandela Foundation’ ...

D is for Dock – it was from the dock in 1964, before he was once again imprisoned for 27 years, that Mandela made his passionate speech, saying:

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities ... "

E is for Exile - where compatriots living outside SA, particularly in Britain and Sweden, raised an international campaign against the apartheid regime.

The statue with its painted steel plates in shades of
grey black and charcoal, is a thing of beauty as
befits the late Nelson Mandela and boxing:
 it is outside the Magistrates' Court in Jhb

E is for Exercise - he was a long distance runner, who encountered the benefits of rigorous exercise due to his boxing training. 

E is for Education and Exercise of the mind - he kept fit ... his daily routine included hundreds of fingertip press-ups – he studied law, debated ideas, and honed his powers of persuasion on prison staff, many of whom were won over by his quiet authority, his dignity and his restraint.

E is for Education all the time ... to the crowd three days after his release ... vengeance does nothing ... go back to school to learn, to appreciate your history, to see both sides of the argument ... to understand ....
Education endorsed via his Foundation

F is for Focus on the cause – in prison he used his time productively.  Convinced of the need to understand his enemy, he learnt Afrikaans, read up on Afrikaner history, and absorbed the views and attitudes of his Afrikaner guards.

G is for Global icon – a giant who changed world history ...

G is for Gandhi – Mandela was influenced by Gandhi’s example in India, when through non-violent civil disobedience he was able to lead India to independence.

This is sold in Singapore today ...
the colour and container would I'm sure
have been considerably duller!
H is for Hair oil! – Mandela was stubborn too: when he ran out of his favourite hair oil, he harassed the authorities for weeks ... eventually “the Pantene crisis” was resolved when some was located.

H is for Hand of Africa – an inadvertent image found after Mandela had finished working on some art work ... now a part of South Africa’s cultural heritage ...

I is for the 2009 film ‘Invictus’ – where Mandela showed his support for the white Afrikaner game of rugby at the World Cup ... encouraging the Africans to support their persecutors ... it worked – the Springboks went on to win ...

J is Johannesburg, where Mandela studied law, and where his passion for politics was forged ... following the oppression and racism he encountered in the city.

Johannesburg is the financial centre of SA – the new Constitutional Court of South Africa, having been established in 1993, is based in Johannesburg. 

The country’s three branches of government are split over different cities: Cape Town, as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the administrative capital; while Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

Aerial view of sunrise over Johannesburg

K is for F W de Klerk – the last State President of apartheid-era South Africa ... he brokered the end of apartheid and supported the transformation of SA into a multi-racial democracy.  He jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for their role in ending apartheid.

L is for Leader, who grew up tending herds as a cattle boy ... but who moved on, even in those early days, to counselling the elders ...

L is for Lawyer, who with fellow lawyer, Oliver Tambo, opened a law firm in Johannesburg in 1952.

The book - well
worth a read

L is for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” a biopic of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary early life ... had its premiere in London on the day Madiba passed away on his journey to the next world to join his ancestors ...

M is for Maya Angelou – who has written a new poem “His Day is Done”.  Mandela, while imprisoned on Robben Island, read her books and recited her poem “Still I Rise” at his presidential inauguration in 1994.

M is for music – the ‘Mandela Trilogy’  ... a work put on by Cape Town Opera (see end of post) ... the single ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ ... which became an anthem for the cause ... and was sung at the Wembley Concert in 1988.

King Protea
N is for names - Nelson Mandela was born ‘Rolihlahla’, which means “trouble-maker”, but was called ‘Nelson’ by a teacher; in later years he was also known by his clan name “Madiba”.

O is for Office – Mandela did something rare among government leaders: he stood down, as he had promised to do.

O is for the Observer newspaper – which on 8 December 2013 (I now spotted today – really!) did an A-Z on Mandela’s life ... I’ve used their “V” ...

Robben Island from Table Mountain,
Cape Town

P is for prisons – Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, Tokai and Victor Verster (farm) Prison, Paarl (in the vicinity of the Fairview wine estate (see my recent post).

Mandela as a child loved to garden, and continued to grow vegetables, herbs and plants as and when he could ... while waiting for freedom in the Victor Verster prison he had a private house in the compound and was able to freely garden ...

P is for Politician ... for all his charm ... he was a consummate politician ... he paid attention to all – his persecutors, to his drivers, to everyone who helped him before and after imprisonment ...

A cattle herder in the Transkei
... even as a freedom fighter he used his mental boxing skills and political nous ... he was a strategist too – when appointed President of South Africa, he knew he needed the administrative experts to keep the country running ... so asked that they stayed in their jobs.

Q is for Qunu – his village in the Transkei where he will rest for ever more ... with his ancestors on the wind-blown plateau ... the place he so loved and where he was able to have a house overlooking those green cattle strewn rolling hills and mud huts of home.

HM Queen Elizabeth II with Nelson Mandela

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II – Mandela was on first name terms with the Queen – no-one else addressed her as “Elizabeth” ... and he also decided that he need not wear a suit and tie ... turning up at Buckingham Palace  in one of his many luminous shirts ...

The Queen was known to ring him occasionally ... and Mandela always stopped and talked to her in familial tones ... how are the children, grandchildren ... mutual respect amongst leaders.

R is for Retirement – not a word known to Mandela.  He stepped down as President in 1999, after serving for five years.  He then retired from public life in 2004, at the age of 85, saying jokingly about any future engagements: “Don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

R is for Rain and Rainbow – the teeming rain at the Memorial Service was seen as a good omen, a blessing ... in the UK we say it is threatening to rain, in Africa ... it is the promise of rain – it is good!  Rain for the Rainbow nation is auspicious ...

R is for Regret – the chief regret he said was that his children had been sacrificed for the greater cause.

S is for the 1,000 volt Smile – a smile with a ready laugh always on show ...

S is for the Struggle – that Mandela did in prison in steadfast defiance, laced with dignity and charm that would win over the Afrikaans warders

Pathe'O with some of his shirts
c/o Africa Link

S is for Shirts – floral, beautifully coloured ones – his ‘trade-mark’ ... many made by Pathe’O – a man born in Burkina Faso, but made a future in the Ivory Coast, with limited skill sets forty years ago ... to farm or try his hand with a pair of scissors ... he chose the path of a tailor and on to fashion designer ...

Pathe’O believes firmly in Africa’s potential and works with African fabrics creating designs respecting the continent’s traditions.

T is for Tradition – Mandela has been buried in accordance with the traditions of his Xhosa tribal roots, as well as sharing a ceremonial service with fully military, political and international honours ... a mere 4,500, of which about 450 attended the final and actual burial in accordance with the Thembu royal family Xhosa traditions

U is for Ubuntu – a word mentioned in President Obama’s speech ... “a South African word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”

U is for that rare Unanimity - unanimity when global leaders come together to give thanks for his life ... a life of one of the most courageous and influential peaceful person in recent times

Mandela Museum at Vilakazi Street

V is for Vilakazi Street, Soweto ... it is probably the only street in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners: President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu.

W is for (American) Watchlist ... President Mandela was only taken off the US terrorist list in 2008

W is for cultural World of references ...  the many books, articles, films, art works, operas ... that have and will continue to contribute to Mandela's enduring legacy on how life should be lived ... 
Coat of Arms of
Republic of Transkei

X is for Xhosa – Mandela, as a boy, was taken in by his tribal king, after his father lost his land and privileged position because he refused to compromise his principles in a dispute with a white magistrate – Mandela inherited the sense of fair play from his father.

Y is for Year ... as we near the end of 2013 and the loss of Mandela to South Africa and the world ... the most fitting memorial will be to make a success of what he helped to establish ... and that leads us to ...

Young Mandela at about 19

Z is for Zuma – President Zuma ... on whose shoulders South Africa rests ... and who it is hoped will let democracy and fairness reign ...

... in the townships there is only space for memories ... poverty and violence still haunt the many, but they relish their democratic freedom from the shackles of apartheid.

This is my A to Z on President Mandela ... may he now rest in peace and be with his ancestors.

Please see Judy Croome, a White South African’s reflective post on the death of Nelson Mandela

Films: “Invictus”,

Books: “Long Walk to Freedom” – Mandela’s early life autobiography – a very good read on leadership;

“In No Uncertain Terms” by Helen Suzman, who was the sole parliamentarian unequivocally opposed to apartheid for 13 years (1961-1974).  She visited Mandela in prison ... and to add to her outsider status – she was an English-speaking Jewish woman in a parliament dominated by Calvinist Afrikaner men. 

OperaYou Tube Clip on “Mandela the Opera”

Pathe'O: From AfricaLink ... "Fashion is Magic"

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


  1. I have a few friends in South Africa who would disagree that he united the races. Black on white violence and murder is rampant and it's one of the most dangerous places in the world. The organizers of the Fifa World Cup were very concerned a few years ago, as the chant, 'Kill the Boers' rang out in the streets, and often times, in the ANC itself. The blacks in power don't care, they see it as retribution for apartheid.

  2. I also love the fact that he found love in his later life-- the widow of a leader in a neighboring country. Winnie, wife #1, was an ambiguous figure, not sure all the stories about her are true, but they are not good and I am sure saddened President Mandela. Great post, Hilary

  3. Hi JoJo .. I prefer to take the positive side - it's not perfect, but at least the Africans, Coloureds and Indians now have the vote.

    The events of the past week - were hopeful ... there was some chastisement of the present regime. We're not perfect here in the UK, there are other countries around the world who have major difficulties because there isn't freedom for peoples.

    I have friends in SA and I lived there ... and we supported fairness for all. We would give jobs to Africans as that may well have been the only thing that supported their family ...

    Nowhere is fair to everyone sadly .. I just wish it was ... we have violence and poverty is not rife here, but there's a lot of people who need some help.

    Anyway Jo-Jo - thanks for commenting

    @ Tasha - in fact Winnie was his 2nd wife ... sadly she seemed to get seduced by power. The family and she seem to have been reconciled this past week ...

    ... but I couldn't agree more that I was delighted that Mandela found happiness in these latter years.

    Thanks so much - Hilary

  4. What a magnificent piece you have written here of one of the great men in history. President Obama said he first became politically active, marching against apartheid and so did I. After the shootings there were huge demonstrations against apartheid in Trafalgar Square, I think SA House was located there, and there I was, hugging a Jamaican friend of mine when a bobby on horseback ran me down. Just knocked me over. I wasn't injured, just shook up, but there began my involvement in the civil rights movement.

    I didn't know about the Watch List and what you wrote above, really shocked me.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this comprehensive piece together, which I think should be published somewhere else as well for a broader readership.

  5. I hear so many different sides and stories, all opposing each other. I respect this man who stood out from others and pursued the truth as he saw it. This is a masterful post, Hilary. All this information and a lot of things I did not know. Thank you for putting this together.

  6. His name may have meant trouble-maker, but he stopped trouble rather than made it.
    Amazing that he had such a rough life between prison and boxing and yet still lived a very long life.

  7. Beautifully done tribute to a man so important in history, yet still surrounded by so much controversy.

  8. @ Inger - thanks so much for mentioning the anti-partheid demonstrations in Trafalgar Square .. I was very naive then.

    Wonderful story and comment you've left here .. Yes SA House is located in Trafalgar Square .. they had a book of condolences in SA House ..

    You were lucky you weren't hurt - horses are large creatures .. but you know that! I'm not surprised you were all shook up -

    Interesting that you and President Obama at separate times, but for similar reasons got involved with the civil rights movement.

    The Watch List surprised me ...

    I just extracted the bits that interested me and am glad the post is being appreciated .. there's so much I could have put in ...

    @ Manzanita - inevitably there's our own opinions - but you've seen the change that one man can make - and certainly with all his friends and adversaries Mandela helped pull the strings towards a greater peace. Some sadly aren't listening .. I hope after this past week - minds will be changed, so that the poor can get more help and there isn't so much bribery and corruption in the SA government.

    @ Alex - I agree ... he was wise and paved the way, if others have the courage he had ...

    He did live a very long life didn't he .. shows what fitness and brain fitness does, I think.

    @ Rhonda - I think mostly he's done good, but he did say he wasn't a saint, he was only trying to be ...

    Cheers and thanks so much for these comments - Hilary

  9. Thank you, Hilary. I always learn so much from you.


  10. Some interesting facts I didn't know about the man.

    G is also for Ground Force - Alan and the gang flew to S. Africa to surprise Mandela by redesigning one of his gardens. (We used to be junkies of the show.)

  11. Excellent post Hilary. One hears so many negative things about South Africa that it is wonderful to hear such positive things about one of its great leaders.

  12. What a fabulous tribute! It's brilliant! I can't wait for the film of his autobiography as it is one of my favourite reads - I remember I read it within a week and that's amazing for me as I tend to take months and months to finish a book but not this one! And Invictus was a surprise of a film for me. I didn't think I'd enjoy it but it was a really really good film!

    Love the bit about the hair oil too! LOL! take care

  13. Hi Hilary,

    Comprehensively and thoughtfully written. Yes, there will be conflicts of opinion and the ongoing strife of South Africa.

    And yet, I understand that Mr. Mandela had a dream of that Rainbow Nation and the ideals must continue to grow in strength.

    His hope and aspirations will live on. There are many who could learn from such philosophy, Notably, the politicians who put corruption before compassion.

    Thank you for this, Hilary.


  14. A great tribute, Hilary. I have thought about writing a Mandela post, but think now that I will not. So much has been written already. I cannot add more, but I love your post. You have brought up many little known facts about Mandela. He was a great human being who continued to grow in stature and dignity throughout his life. I feel privileged to have lived in South Africa during his presidency. As I've said elsewhere, one of the lights of the world has gone out. Thank you.

  15. This is a very creative and informative post about Mandela.
    Thank you for educating us.
    I enjoyed this.
    I love how you put everything together. Great job, Hilary!
    And thanks for adding Maya Angelou's poem...

  16. A nice tribute, Hilary. I learned a few things.

    There are a lot of wrongs in the world, and any step toward intelligent solutions is good. RIP, Nelson Mandela.

  17. Thank you for this--a thoughtful post. He was such a great man. I am glad he lived such a long time, but it is still a huge loss for those of us who would seek peace and justice in this world.

  18. I kind of feel everyone is right here. He did do a lot of great things and good things - but no ordinary man is perfect. We all have our flaws. sandie

  19. Hilary, You did an exceptional job of covering his life from A to Z, from the defining moments to his favorite hair product. I love that he also had such a special relationship with the Queen. Mandela accomplished so much for the greater good, and had a tremendous aptitude for forgiveness.


  20. @ Janie – good to see you here: Mandela had lots to offer us ..

    @ Diane – thanks, there’s been so much coverage. Alan Titchmarsh and the Ground Force team did indeed do Mandela’s garden for him in Qunu .. I couldn’t find a photo of just the garden! But I did see the programme when it came out .. thanks for adding this in ...

    @ Jo – life is not all red wine and roses down there, but let’s hope some of the words and thoughts expressed at the ceremonies will be considered more thoughtfully by African leaders, particularly the SA ones ...

    @ Old Kitty – that’s amazing you so enjoyed his book – I quite agree with you. I hope more people take the opportunity to read it before they go and see the film ... I’d better re-read it! I have still to see Invictus .. and am glad to see you enjoyed it ..

    Isn’t the hair oil scenario .. fun to think about – even though he was in prison at the time.

    @ Gary – you’ve highlighted the ongoing problems SA will have – I just hope the leaders have taken some of it on board and will be more conciliatory to their own people. As you say Mandela had the dream and continued to expound it .. by setting the tone and leading his life in a pretty good exemplary fashion.

    I sincerely hope his hopes and aspirations live on ... and that compassion comes before corruption ... the world would rest easier ...

    @ Val – it took me ages to put together ... and I wondered about scrapping it altogether, but am glad I kept on and have written it: I learnt so much and was reminded of so much ...

    It is a privilege to be in this internet age where we can join in/participate and see history in the making ... while being able to take in great leaders’ words when they are spoken with authority, sense and compassion ... giving us a chance to rethink our own lives.

    @ Julia – many thanks – in the end it was the only way I could put something remotely together, and I’m glad you appreciated it – makes me happy! I enjoy putting things into posts to remind me of things .. ie Maya Angelou’s links to her poems ...

    @ DG – absolutely ... if the leaders of other nations that were at the various Services can learn from their peers’ words and become more compassionate and magnanimous, appreciating and helping the poor ... life in Africa would be easier all round.

    @ Hart – good to see you . He lived an amazing length of time didn’t he ... I am sure there will be others who will pick up his mantle and continue with his work ... he set quite a few forward thinking plans in motion ... we really do need peace and justice in the world.

    @ Sandie – exactly .. none of us are perfect – but Mandela certainly showed the way in leadership, but there were flaws there – yet much of his wisdom should be absorbed by lesser men and women ...

    @ Julie – many thanks .. hair oil and the Queen and those shirts .. all amusing snippets ... and you’ve mentioned one great good I didn’t put in .. his aptitude for forgiveness – I hope the leaders in SA can forget their own needs and give true leadership to all peoples of South Africa.

    Thank you so much for your comments – cheers Hilary

  21. Gosh Hil, most people would not have such a long life as he did considering how badly his life began. I thought the Pantene story funny. He was truly a man who cared about his people and all people for that matter. Thank you for teaching me again!

    Love you! XOXOXO

  22. What a lovely tribute! I learned a lot about Mandela. Amazing you were able to write the post in the A-Z format! Must have taken a lot of research, Hilary.

  23. R is also for rugby. South Africans will never forget the day they won the Rugby World Cup and Mandela walked out on to the field wearing the captain's shirt (Francois Pienaar). The whole nation cheered, not only those in the stadium but those watching on TV as well.

    Lovely post, well done Hilary.

  24. @ Robyn - he did live a very long life and in the end so fulfilled. There are so many stories about Mandela .. and some lovely anecdotes ... I couldn't remember them all!

    I'd forgotten about Pantene oil .. strange to think it was a 'necessity' in prison in South Africa back in the 60s/70s/80s ...

    @ Elizabeth - it was the easiest way to bring out some of the points ... I'd have missed much, but I've still missed many aspects .. but I hope and think I've got the essence of those times.

    @ Diane - yes I could have put R for Rugby .. but I used I for Invictus ... and couldn't put all the story in - hence the links across to the reviews.

    I've yet to see the film, but probably watched at the time - as I was back here ...

    Cheers to you ... and thanks for commenting - Hilary

  25. Thank you for this, Hilary. Being in the US, there has never been as much coverage of Mandela (I'll just bite my tongue here about what our nation views as "important news"). You taught me a few things about his history I didn't know.

    He was certainly an extraordinary man and I hope his legacy continues to shine a light in those corners still shrouded in prejudice and violence. I'm going to go check out that book you mentioned now!

  26. This is my favorite of the Mandela posts thus far. I consider him a true inspiration to millions of people across the world and one who we can learn so much from.

  27. I personally found this funeral a little "too" much and certainly not in Mandela's spirit. He would have preferred to give all this money which this gigantic funeral has cost to the poors still living in the slums. I have a friend in SA according to her Jacob Zuma is really not an ideal president, the economical situation in SA is worse and worse. Read in Wikipedia. He is accused of corruption, rape and besides that those who are against him today are persecuted. Where is the freedom ? Poor Mandela. Hopefully he didn't know too much about this president ! He has done so much not only for SA but for the whole world.

  28. Yes - he was all those things. I loved seeing the dancing and celebrations of his life.

    Lovely post!

  29. An interesting and informative tribute. Thanks Hilary.

  30. An interesting and informative tribute. Thanks Hilary.

  31. The journey of his life and his person is so inspiring and uplifting. It's difficult not to think wonderful thoughts about him. What a life he led. He certainly used it well.

  32. This ABC is fascinating, I did not know he and the Queen were so friendly, or about the man whose shirts he often wears, and quite a few other points you make. Hello from California.

  33. @ River - it's interesting the different news coverage. We did have a lot of coverage on his passing - and we get a full range of ideas to consider ..

    You'll enjoy his book - he had much to offer ... I hope more people can lead as he did, by example ..

    @ Matthew - many thanks - he was inspiring, thoughtful and careful in what he did and the image he projected too just endorsed his actions.

    @ Gattina - that's fine .. we certainly had a lot of tv, radio and newspaper time.

    Oddly enough I read that Mandela thought quite highly of Zuma when they were in prison together ... but I too, as do my South African contacts, wish he'd practise what Mandela preached.

    @ Lynn - the Africans know how to dance, mourn and celebrate ...

    @ Suzanne - thanks

    @ Mary - some men are born leaders, and through circumstance are able to achieve so much ...

    I continue to think how he held himself together for the greater good of South Africans, even when in prison and subjugated ..

    @ Terra - many thanks, so pleased you enjoyed this entry .. and good to see you from sunny California

    Cheers everyone - many thanks - Hilary

  34. Mandela certainly had a great farewell. He will never be forgotten that's for sure. I enjoyed your A - Z. What a great idea. D

  35. A very suitable and lovely tribute to a man who stood up for his beliefs at a great personal cost. It's not perfect in SA, but he took that country forward without a civil war by his sacrifices.

  36. Hi Hilary,

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing all these facts about Nelson Mandela's life with us. I for one, had no idea that he was a runner or a boxer. There were many things I didn't know about him, and reading this post has made me somehow feel a little closer to him - as silly as that sounds. I loved this!

  37. You are so clever! This is interesting; I learned a lot from going A to Z. :) Thank you, Hilary, for sharing this with us!

    Have a wonderful week!

  38. Mandela, Mother Theresa, Gandhi -- all right up there in the A to Z's of some of history's greatest positive influencers.

    Another wonderful post -- with great colors on the letters!


  39. Ah, dear friend. It's been 6 days since you posted on facebook in response to my latest. Hope the sorting is going well. I'm having trouble navigating through the season this year with some troubling things going on with my children, but it cheers me to come over here and see this post, esp. in view of the fact that yesterday I purchased for my e-reader this great and interesting man's autobiography. So many books now to read! But this one is high on my list. I've been trying to think what to do with my blog. I don't want to stop blogging completely. Maybe after the holiday season I'll be able to think of something and get motivated. Right now I just want to read, read, read. Hugs to you from me and Jen and our "Best" wishes to you always. So glad you're our friend. May you enjoy these last weeks at the end of another (can you believe it) year!!! :)

  40. You've written a wonderful and informative tribute to one of the greatest men of our time. Of all the things he accomplished, I will forever admire him the most for coming out of prison with forgiveness and compassion in his heart toward his oppressors. If he had been vindictive, the history of South Africa would have gone in a very different and bloody direction.

  41. Hilary, as always a lovely positive post and a great way to honour Tata Madiba.

    JoJo - the concerns of your friends living here have some validity. However, I'm with Hilary on taking the positive view of today's South Africa. Our problems are - if looked at objectively & disregarding the negative spin newspapers tend to use when reporting on SA - no worse than dozens of other countries. But, we've achieved so much more in the short 20 year life of our young democracy. We may falter and limp at times, but as a country we have so much hope and so much potential it's a privilege to live here and be part of it, despite the amount of work that must still be done to live up to the ideals of men such as Madiba, the Arch and FW de Klerk (3 of our 4 Nobel peace prize winners)

    Hilary, thanks for linking to my post on Madiba. Hamba kahle, tata Madiba.

    And wishing you a blessed and wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2014


    Judy Croome, South Africa

  42. Hilary, I found this very moving. When I saw the subject, I thought 'Of course, Hilary would be on to this one' - because you are on to the big events, and also because of the Sth Africa connection. And of course I learned some new things, as I always do from your posts.

  43. @ Denise - many thanks, just seemed an 'easy' way to pull together some interesting snippets ..

    @ Lee - he gave everyone freedom and choice; while as you say it's not ideal - he led by example ..

    @ Melanie - I loved Namibia when I visited and went up the Skeleton Coast in the late 80s.

    Your school art work is a delight to see and so good to read you were so interested in history, as well as the ending of apartheid. I'm glad I've added a little to your knowledge here ..

    @ Karen - many thanks .. it really makes it easier for me - just glad everyone's enjoying it ..

    @ Jannie - yes all the 'good and positive people' - I didn't mention Mother Theresa, but she's made such an impact on impoverished lives. Glad you enjoyed the colouring .. sort of breaks it up and makes it easier to read ..

    @ Ann - good to see you .. I know you are doing wonders navigating some major challenges.

    I'm delighted you've bought his autobiography .. I hope it was Long Walk to Freedom, as I can definitely recommend that.

    Through blogging we meet great friends, and can at least remain in touch one way or the other. Blogging can at least be picked up whenever .. I hope you and Jen can have a happy Christmas ..

    @ Susan - thanks Susan .. life would be very different if, as you say, Mandela had come out a vindictive man. We, and the world, have been lucky he's lived in our times and shown us a way forward through his examples .. however small.

    @ Judy - great to see you here and appreciate that you 'nod to my take' on Mandela.

    Thanks for letting us know from a South African perspective how South Africa has improved in these past 25 .. while acknowledging there is much to address still ...

    I hope your post will be read by other bloggers ..

    @ Juliet - it was daunting and where to start - hence the 'easy' approach .. not all aspects covered, but the links are there for further reading.

    Thanks everyone - I hope to see you before Christmas comes around .. but if not have very happy ones, and then let's have successful 2014s .. cheers Hilary

  44. An amazing man, one to be added to the list of true greats.
    Wishing you a very happy Christmas, Hilary, and a happy and successful year ahead. My husband has his cancer operation in January, we have been told that it is not life threatening, so hoping that this is the case. Kind regards, Carole.

  45. Hilary, this was brilliant. Such a beautiful tribute and fascinating too---I LOVED reading more about this amazing man. Thank you for this! (And I hope your holidays are wonderful!)

  46. Such a detailed tribute. I didn't realise Maya Angelou had written that poem, so now I'm off to investigate. Thank you.

  47. I'm so sorry he died. I remember how outraged I felt in the 1980s when I learned that segregation still existed and that he was in prison. When I've had teaching opportunities, I've taught this lesson of Ahimsa, which Gandhi used, which inspired Martin Luther King Jr., which in turn inspired Nelson Mandela.

    Thank you for such a nice tribute.

  48. Great tribute, Hilary. In regards to Mandela, I always think: The Power of One. Brilliant life. :)

  49. That was a beautiful tribute to an amazing man, Hilary. Thank you.

  50. @ Carole - he was, as you said, a true giant. Thank you for your wishes and for letting me know your news - I'm sure the operation will make all the difference.

    @ Morgan - thanks so much .. glad you enjoyed my take on it - at least I can get a mix of snippets into the post.

    @ Annalisa - it could be and was way longer! But I'm glad I put in the links to Maya Angelou ..

    @ Theresa - At least he is at peace now. Ahimsa is such a strong, yet soft term to use in teaching about the just (non-violence) - the children you get a chance to teach must learn so much from you.

    It's interesting the time frame of things ... Gandhi lived (1869 - 1948); Nehru (1889 - 1964) was taught by Gandhi, but Mandela said he preferred Nehru's adapted teachings; Martin Luther King (1929 - his murder in 1968), and then Mandela was born in 1918 and lived his long life til 2013.

    Also the fact that ideas and teachings were spread far and wide ... India, London, South Africa and the States ...

    @ Luanna - the Power of One - yes, he did exemplify that .. and probably will continue to do so for another generation, I hope more will come to appreciate his concepts ...

    @ Talon - thanks so much ..

    Cheers everyone - it's made some interesting history lessons for me! Hilary

  51. A detailed and moving tribute, Hilary. I won his autobiography in a school essay competition years ago and lent it to a friend last year. About time I got it back and read it, I think!

  52. Very well written, Hilary. The last great figure of our time ... can't think of any other name that even comes close. A peaceful protester in the beginning, a fighter when the conditions imposed on his people called for one, a peacemaker.
    A great man.

  53. @ Deniz - what a wonderful prize and yes, I hope you can get it back .. as the book is well worth a read. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on his journey in due course ..

    @ Silvia - he certainly has become hugely respected by the world leaders, thinkers, movers and shakers .. and he was a peacemaker - let's hope the South African leadership can now take on some of his mantle ... and not wander off the road, as they seem to have done.

    @ Sherry - thanks ..

    Cheers - great to see you - Hilary

  54. I always feel sad that he was imprisoned, but boy did he make a strong finish.

  55. HIlary, what a lovely tribute to a remarkable man. There are few who changed the world in the way he did.
    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

  56. Well done, Hilary! You are the master of AtoZ posts. Still can't believe that whole debacle with the sign language translator at the memorial service. Three feet away from heads of state, and the guy is prone to violent outbursts. Gah!

  57. @ Rosey - I'm afraid it is part of that life in certain countries and still continues on .. however he did help so many during those years, with his determination to prevail. Love your phrase 'boy did he make a strong finish' .. yes, he sure did.

    @ Karen - he offered us another look at life, from a peaceful point of view .. I hope his approach to life can carry on helping change the world.

    @ Milo - many thanks .. and yes the sign language translator was extraordinary wasn't he - especially when we found out more about him .. one of those stories.

    Thanks to you all - cheers Hilary

  58. A very great man who wil live in history for evermore.

  59. You are so amazing. Coming up with an A-Z list for Mandela was wonderful:~)

    You included so many things I didn't know...things that made him a man and not just a world leader and hero.

    Sometimes we need to reminded that behind every great person is also just a normal person who happens to amazing things. It sort of reminds me we all have the capacity to do good's the determination and persistence of a few who actually accomplish- this.

    I loved the "hair oil" story. As one who struggles with her hair, I could appreciate this:~)

    I didn't know the story behind the "hand of Africa." I'm glad I do now.

    Ah, give me so much knowledge and in such an interesting way. I am so glad you discovered blogging.

    Happy, happy holiday, my friend. I look forward to reading even more in 2014:~)

  60. @ Friko - yes he will be a part of history ... and I hope his ideals will be remembered.

    @ Sara - once I got going in the format .. it was relatively easy, as there was no way I could put all the things in. I learnt loads too - hence the few snippets I managed to include.

    Hair Oil .. that was funny (interesting) to find out about - and is not something I suffer from I'm glad to say. I didn't know the origins of the Hand Of Africa - so that was a bonus bit of knowledge.

    Thanks Sara - I'm delighted I discovered blogging - it's fun and we're so lucky being a part of a like-minded group ...

    Happy festive times to you both .. Sara and Friko - cheers - Hilary

  61. Have a terrific holiday season!!

  62. I'm here today to wish you a Merry Christmas!

  63. Aloha and wow, what a post :)

    You did a fantastic job, Hilary, and it shows.

    Thanks for all the snippets of info - especially with R. (I felt sad thinking the memorial had been "rained out", but it's great to hear it is a good sign :)

    Merry Christmas - and best, best wishes for 2014 :)

  64. @ JJ .. many thanks and I'll be by anon ..

    @ Rosey - many thanks .. see you shortly ..

    @ Mark - I enjoyed writing it - once I'd got my head organised. Yes, the R for Rain being a good omen .. I remember those days in Africa, when we were so pleased the rains had come.

    Different cultures with different takes on life ..

    Merry Christmas to you all - and have very happy 2014s .. Hilary

  65. You truly did beautiful justice to a man who deserves every accolade available. I wish this could be published somewhere more public (haha) than a blog - where world leaders and ordinary citizens. Do South African newspapers accept letters? In America, anyone can write in, and the editor picks from the choices to publish people's personal opinions. It would be a place to start at least.
    This is one of your best posts, and so important. Thank you for the education, and the way you brought him to life and gave his life the dignity and honor it deserves.
    Well done, Hils.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  66. hahaha, now I'm here to wish you a happy new year. ;)

    Happy New Year!!

  67. @ Tina - thanks .. I suspect everyone's said all that can be said about Mandela .. and now the film will be out on Friday 3rd Jan ..

    I piggy-backed off many journalists who had written so much ... so it's just the 'easy' way I put things together for a blog post, which thankfully so many seem to enjoy.

    I really appreciate your thoughts here re this posting .. thank you so much ..

    @ Rosey - thanks for your wishes ..

    Cheers to you both .. Hilary

  68. Hilary,

    I leaving you this message from pea of"

    "Hallo Hilary! What a tremendous effort for your Mandela post. I have to write it here because I was turned away twice at your blog!"

    She left it my site since you couldn't leave it here for whatever reason:~)

    Happy day to you.

  69. Hi Sara .. thanks for letting me know - fortunately I went into my comment moderation, where this comment was sitting.

    I've been across to say thank you ... and have no idea why she was turned away .. except she doesn't have a conventional blog - but perhaps it's because the comment id isn't recognised ...

    Thanks - good to hear that she appreciate this post ..

    Cheers to you both - Hilary