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 ...
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 ...
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 ....
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 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.
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.
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.
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” ...
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|
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.
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
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 ...
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 ...
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
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.
Opera: You Tube Clip on “Mandela the Opera”
Pathe'O: From AfricaLink ... "Fashion is Magic"
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories