Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflecting on Nelson Mandela

I was so busy yesterday, racing from one end of St. Louis to the other end of Kirkwood to get things ready for my last child's decade day birthday party celebration. The car was literally my dwelling from the moment I dropped them off at school to the moment I picked them up.

Wanting to hear my heart as I use drive time to work on developing the characters for my book, I shut out all outside media, the radio was not on the usual NPR.  Hadn't read the newspapers, hadn't been on social media, just doing errands, planning, and thinking.

Then I came home and sat at my computer and my heart stopped.

Madiba was gone, passed away, no longer a presence on this Earth.

We knew it was coming, just like all of us must one day separate spirit and soul from body, he was 95 after all, yet, it was still numbing, a great loss that words can not capture the fullness.

My dear friend, Rasia, put up the post, she being from South Africa.  I felt the sense of pain and loss in her words.

My dear sister, eDali, immediately moved to South Africa after the end of apartheid, made it her home for four years.  She went through a naming ceremony, becoming officially South African, her new name being Edalizwizwe.  I have precious jewelry she brought back for me.

One of my first internships in international marketing was in preparing the American and Missouri delegation to accompany then U.S. President Bill Clinton on an economic development tour to many African nations, South Africa being one of them.

We have friends from many countries in Africa, we trace our heritage to Madagascar, my husband has adopted Ghana as his homeland, our ancestress hails from the Dominican Republic and our ancestors were from Haiti, we have Africa in our veins.  We know the great impact of Madiba extended far beyond the southern tip of his homeland, but throughout the entire content and the world.

He challenged the collective us to think about what we are doing.  He reminded us that we are not born hating or fearing one of another race or culture, that it is something learned, and if we are willing, can be unlearned.

His character, in the face of unspeakable challenges, exists forever to exort us to face our mountain with the same sense of purpose and destiny.  He was true to his mission and ideal, despite it costing him 27 years of his life, just about the exact amount of time my older son has walked this earth.  Would we, would I, have the same strength of mind, soul, and spirit to endure a physical prison without being imprisoned in my mind as well?  Would you?

Nelson Mandela is also a beacon, in the darkness of the racial hatred and class opposition we have endured in America since the election of President Obama.  A beacon exists to light the way and to expose the darkness, perhaps the timing of his passing is a moment for the American apartheid to come to an end, to see ourselves not that different from the oppressors of the black people in South African at the time of great men like Mandela and Beko.

Much will be written, spoken, and examined of the life that was lived for us.  Even being a Creole black woman in America, his impact was an impact on all people in all lands.  He was not just the first black President of South Africa.  He was not just a black African man standing in the face of white European oppression. He was a servant, as he himself described his existence, on a mission to enlighten us all to the possibility of love being the order of the day.

My errands ended and I sat here, absorbing the news, thinking of all it meant, fell asleep listening to his words played over and over and the pundits speaking of the as yet unexamined future, and wondering, what will be all do now?

May he rest in eternal peace, journey is over, work is complete.  Most Honorable Nelson Mandela. 1918-2013.

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