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In Memory of Nelson Mandela

◄ by Louise Broomberg – Johannesburg, South Africa ►

By now the whole world is aware of the passing of Nelson Mandela. Here in South Africa we are immersed in a constant stream of images, stories, memories from every possible media station.  In the streets and at particular sites around the country people are gathering, paying tribute and celebrating his life. There are already around 2500 international and local media personnel in the country, and during this coming week 90-100 Heads of State will arrive, with their respective entourages, security details and the like. One can’t help but be deeply moved by it all. We in South Africa are proud to claim him as our own, but in fact he belonged to the world. And as President Obama said, he now no longer belongs to us in the world: he belongs to the ages.

I do feel that while hearts across the world are open at this time, there is a portal here to amplify all that is right and true that Madiba exemplified. The words that people are using to describe him include humility, forgiveness, magnanimity, honesty, passion, kindness, selflessness, generosity of spirit, and above all love. May all of that penetrate deeply into the mass subconscious, and let heaven be known increasingly on earth as a result. I have a sense of his spirit being released into a larger arena of service.

Next month I will be going to Zimbabwe for a 10 day visit. One can’t help but compare the two leaders. After one glorious term in office Mandela stepped back with grace and dignity. Mugabe has held on to power for 30+ years, wreaking havoc in his wake.  So are feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness justified? When is it ever okay to judge? I am digging deep in myself to find that place where judgement does not exist: letting things be exactly as they are in the external world. Good , bad – who knows? Adulation and condemnation are really flip sides of the same coin. My business, and the business of each one, is to tend to my own heart and mind – amplifying what is right and true and releasing what isn’t. That I believe is the greatest way to honour the likes of Mandela, and to ultimately triumph over the Mugabes of the world.

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2 thoughts on “In Memory of Nelson Mandela

  1. Thank you Louise for this wonderful post on Madiba. His passing has had a tremendous effect on the world, and we South Africans living abroad have found it difficult not to be part of the collective mourning and celebration of his life, as well as the support of other South Africans in the Motherland. Your sense of his spirit being released into the larger arena of service is exactly how I was thinking of it yesterday. For his death to have such a recognition world-wide (Eiffel tower in Paris lit in SA flag colors, so was the Empire State building in New York, amongst others) there is truly the feeling that the ascension, that Chris spoke of in class recently, can be seen and experienced at this time.
    Enjoy your visit to Zim next week and be safe in the land of Mugabe. May the spirit of Mandela filter into that country and permeate it’s leaders.

  2. Louise, I really appreciate the personal insights you’ve shared, both here and on the recent IAAP Teleconference. Today I came across this poem that Maya Angelou has written for Mandela, and want to share that with you and all those who participate in IAAP’s creative field.

    His Day Is Done
    (A Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela)

    His day is done.
    Is done.
    The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
    Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
    The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
    Our skies were leadened.

    His day is done.
    We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
    Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
    We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

    We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.

    Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.

    Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.

    Would the man survive? Could the man survive?

    His answer strengthened men and women around the world.

    In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago’s Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City’s Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison’s doors.

    His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

    He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

    Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.

    When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela’s former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.

    We saw him accept the world’s award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

    No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

    Yes, Mandela’s day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.

    He has offered us understanding.
    We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
    Nelson Mandela’s day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

    Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

    We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.

    ~ Maya Angelou

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