Madiba,’father’, exploded into my life in the mid ’80’s amid Apartheid, the Specials and the words ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ spray painted on the side of our local Sainsbury’s.
Over the ensuing years he became a familiar figure – a symbol of why we should stand up for the rights of others, for equality, for justice.
In recent times though, his warm smiling face, loud shirts and twinkling eyes came to mean love and forgiveness. Neither of these were soft, passive things – they were emblems of what is right – of bucking the trend – of reaching out, not just to friends and family but to those who’ve caused us pain.
This was his massive strength – this is what the great leaders of the west feared in him – who he was – what he represented – gained the love and respect of godzillions of folk across the globe.
A respect these ‘leaders’ try to gain through fear and some weird illusion of power.
He was by no means perfect – looking at his younger face, he had the appearance of a man who could start a fight in an empty room – an expression that showed some of the distorted agony of someone who’d believed that peace was the answer, only to finally concede that some manner of direct action was required to confront the hateful regime in South Africa.
So no, not perfect. But an example, perhaps, of what was needed to become something huge.
Add to that 27 years of imprisonment followed with that most awesome of weapons, forgiveness, apartheid never stood a chance.
No, he doesn’t leave a perfect South Africa by any stretch of the imagination, but he leaves one that is distinctly better for his having lived in it.
All round a pretty good effort, I’m sure most would agree.
On the report of his life it’s unlikely that you’d find the words, ‘Could try harder.’
So what about you? How easy was it to pile in with all the other folk in social media land with the the ‘We hate the hypocritical bastards who claim Mandela as their hero even though they wanted him dead in the ’80’s’
The David Camerons, the conservatives, the gun toting republicans, the Obamas…
Anyone else? The bankers? The multinational corporations?
Iain Duncan, fucking Smith and the rest of those smug faced millionaire wankers in the cabinet who’re in it with the rest of us?
The thing that intrigues me is how all this anger and vitriol on behalf of Mr Mandela has only poured forth since his passing.
Why is that? In his later years he never needed anyone to hate on his behalf, did he?
And yet here we all are…
Imagine then, when you feel the molten lava of hate, of disgust and anger bubbling inside you, close your eyes just for a moment and think, ‘What would Nelson Mandela do?’
Because, people, he isn’t here any more, so we have to be.
Remember what it was that made him all powerful – remember what it was that he had that they feared.
We have that. You have it and so do I.
We can be giants.
Walk a mile