In preparing for this trip, Mandela featured prominently in the readings and documentaries. Coming to South Africa means coming to know Madiba’s soul. So many of his quotes inspire me. His goal for freedom for all people of South Africa is farsighted and merciful. His life is a light for many. Today as he celebrates 95 years of life, I am grateful. I join him in his famous dance of joy for all that he has given to this world. His has been a life well spent.
I have several images that come to mind over the duration of the trip. I do not have the photos to accompany any of them (unless they are in the post about Robben Island). Robben Island was a powerful visit for me, knowing that this was where Mandela had spent so many of his years and done much of his strategic planning for the new South Africa. His years imprisoned taught him a new way of seeing the world and himself. Everything is stripped away and you are left with the bare minimum of life. I remember during the Millennium celebrations watching him return to his cell and light a candle. This action of peace and grace remains with me today as a sign of hope to this world. The darkness does not get to win.
We also went to his home which at the time was surrounded by CNN reporters. Every morning for us we were news-hungry for how Madiba was faring. We would awake and wonder if he had died during the night. The world was watching. CNN was interviewing people on the street. I wondered what I would say about this icon and so now I can. There is no camera running but I think I would say how grateful I am to this man for showing us how to get it right. He reconciled himself with people that he did not have to, that he could have harboured grudges against, that deserved to be “punished.” He embodied a Christ-like persona in terms of forgiveness.
When we were at the Apartheid Museum, a special Mandela exhibit was showing. I walked around the pieces in awe of this mortal. Trouble maker, reconciler, boxer, lawyer, husband, father, president, negoiator, terrorist, leader, prisoner, and friend are just a few of the labels that identify him. Here was not only a truth-teller, but here was also a truth-maker. He set a new Truth for the nation and for the world. This is part of his legacy. May we all learn a lesson from Tata–he offers many. Find one that fits for you at this point in your life. As for me, I am going to spend some time thinking about reconciliation and forgiveness and what that means to me right now.