At the time of writing this emotional post from a cold, but sun-filled Cape Town, South Africa – for which I have very few words of my own – I could not resist the temptation to share a few of Nelson R Mandela’s own words, and that of another South African who has long since passed.
At his inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically elected president, and during a time of great turmoil in this world, President Mandela spoke these words:
” Today, all of us do, by our presence here…confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
…We who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.
…We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation, We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement.
Let freedom reign.
God Bless Africa!”
At the opening of South Africa’s first democratic house of parliament, Mandela shared with great humility and thought this poem:
“The child is not dead
the child raises his fists against his mother
who screams Africa screams the smell
of freedom and heather
in the locations of the heart under siege
The child raises his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who scream Africa scream the smell
of justice and blood
in the streets of his armed pride
The child is not dead
neither at Langa nor at Nyanga
nor at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station in Philippi
where he lies with a bullet in his head
The child is the shadow of the soldiers
on guard with guns saracens and batons
the child is present at all meetings and legislations
the child peeps through the windows of houses and into the
hearts of mothers
the child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is
the child who became a man treks through all of Africa
the child who became a giant travels through the whole world
Without a pass”
This poem was written by Ingrid Jonker who with a heavy heart took her own life beneath the waves off Mouille Point, a few miles away from my own home, just beneath the slopes of the glorious Table Mountain which still cradles the Cape of Good Hope.
Indeed, the child is not dead.
(excerpts of these words were taken from Nelson Mandela’s biography, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, and ingrid Jonker’s collection of poems, BLACK BUTTERFLIES)