Today is a historic day in world history as the world unites to remember one man – Nelson Mandela. Thousands of South Africans are making their wat to FNB Stadium (Soccer City) to share in a tribute to a man who became a guiding light to us and millions the world over. The world watches as international news agencies report on this one occassion. A lot of dignitries, kings and presidents and ex-presidents from around the world have arrived to bow their heads with us. The world is knocking on heaven’s door to pay their last respects. Even in death Mandela has made people put aside their differences to come together for a common goal. A goal driven by respect and love. Where else will you find the USA President on the same program as the Cuban president. There is a message there about putting aside your differences for a common cause. A lot can be achieved when you acknowledge that we’re all just human driven by the same needs and desires. I swear that if the Dali Lama would have been allowed in SA then the world would have ended today because for a few hours the world will be united in figurative world peace. The Christian God foretold that world peace will be a sign for the end of the world and we’re one man short of that. It may have been apt for the world to start and end in Africa. Yes, I may seem a bit dramatic but don’t be distracted from my sincerety. One man has brought the world together in a way that may never be experienced again. Thank whatever god you believe in that you’re on earth today to see this.
Our office just had an impromptu gathering to pay tribute to Mandela. We started with Nkosi Sikelea and went into a prayer of tribute. By the time another song was sung so many of us were crying the ugly cry.
As I looked across the room I saw raw emotion. Because, as one director put it, he belonged to us. His family have to share their father with us, a strange inevitable pain of really belonging to an icon of his stature.
Our one MD, a tall dignified black man, tried to address us and quietly broke down after three words. Another colleauge then took the reigns and paid a lovely tribute to his leadership and essentially a prayer for us all to move forward with his example and work hard to keep this country united.
I suspect these “ceremonies” are happening all around South Africa, Southern Africa, Africa and the world at the moment. We’re all sad but we’re also all happy that we got to witness a great leaders’ example in our lifetime.
It’s a heart moving day in South Africa today. One of our fathers, our stalwarts have passed away and most of us are feeling rather down. I want to walk up to everyone I come across and say “sorry for your loss”. There are few occasions in life where you share a common bond with just about everyone you’ll ever meet and this sad day is one of them.
Every South African shares Madiba. Most of us adored him and even those who didn’t have to admitt that he meant a lot to this nation and shaped the way we came out of Apardheid. Since he was in prison at the time he couldn’t be at the forefront of negotations to end this blemish on our past but it is how he reacted once out that set the scene of how things could be.
As the leader of the ANC millions looked to him for leadership and what a leader he proved to be. He acted with dignity, did not portray revenge or hatred, loved children and loved South Africa. You are not simply an icon because you led a quiet revolution, you are an icon because of how you act and treat others. Because of the messages you send to the world and the fact that the world wants to live up to the ideals you portray. He led by example and as it was such a good example thankfully millions of people enthusiastically followed.
In many ways he followed his heart and what makes him most important to me is that I believe he represents hte reality that most South Africans are inherintally good and just want to live a happy and peaceful life. We do not mean each other harm and we are willing to help each other if given the opportunity. When you think of Mandela think of all South Africans because his generosity and compassion and love is prevelant throughout out nation’s people.
May the legend live on in everyone’s hearts and in the generations to come because if we can keep our eyes set on his example this will remain a great nation, the nation everyone dreamed of nearly 20 years ago
South Africans have a rather passionate connection to any “famous” person who has a connection to our homeland. No matter where they reside now or who they assosiate with, if they’ve done someting cool, they are ours. Other people might not know of their connection but we revel in it and we claim them.
A lot of people residing in South Africa are incredibly famous (Tata Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Chris Barnard) but I’d like to look at those that are not living here and who may never have struck you as South African.
Charlize Theron is ours. Dave Matthews is ours. J.R.R Tolkein is ours. Jody Scheckter is ours. Neil Blomkamp and his friend Sharlto Copely are ours. Seether (the band) is ours. Heck, even Kevin Peters who plays cricket for England is ours (as was most of the team at one stage) we’re kinda cross about it but he’s ours.
The list is long and we can tell you all about it. These people are important to us because they have acheived things on a world stage. America and Europe have a lot of people like this but I think we are specifically passionate about this matter because South Africa was marginalised for so long. These people represent who we really are and what we can achieve and as a nation we are proud of it. Even Oprah said a few years ago that she must be Zulu so our qualities must be attractive.
Another reason these people interest me is because they do not shake the fact that they are South African despite the fact that they live abroad.
Dave Matthews “found” himself in Virginia USA but he was in JHB last night talking in a South African accent and was supported in concert by the great Hugh Masekela. Charlize (Reindeer Games) and Sharlto Copley (Elysium) couldn’t help but offer up Afrikaans as forgein languages when given the chance. Neil Blomkamp used JHB as a backdrop for the stunning District 9 and had a South African flag stuck on Sharlto’s helicopter in Elysium. J.R.R Tolkein used Elephants and Hyenas as inspiration in Lord of The Rings despite the fact that he hadn’t been here in almost a lifetime.
My point is that South Africa is within them. They don’t always shout it from the rooftops and may have left to find a better life but the identity still seeps through at the most unexpected of times. I bet you Charlize and Sharlto swear in Afrikaans. Kevin Peterson probably misses outdoor braais under sunny skies.
These foreign South Africans prove you can live wherever, and do whatever, but you can still value where you come from and how growing up here impacted on you. The Southern tip of Africa is a special place and once you’ve lived here you’re not likely to forget it.
I’ve just had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Cape Town and I can not help but now write about “The Mountain”. Everyone knows about The Mountain. It is a key feature of Cape Town and was recently dubbed one of the Wonders of the World. Tha’t no small feat for a mountain – there are thousands of them afterall.
The thing about The Mountain though is that it is inherintly intrinsicly mystically linked to anyone’s visit to the Mother City. The Mountain looms over the city with beauty and grace and an energy that is hard to explain. While you are there she watches over you and no matter where you go you can look up at The Mountain and know that she is there. Her presense stretches far and wide and there is nothing like being in the CBD or the northern suburbs and looking up to see The Mountain. She’s just there. Part of your life. Really omnipresent. There is a reassurance in knowing the mountain is there. She is testiment to beauty and discovery and hope.
I often wonder what it must have been like to be Jan Van Riebeek sailing around the Cape and seeing that Mountain for the first time. The Mountain with it’s blue haze and it’s clouds and it’s protective slopes leading into the bay. There were probably animals on the plains below the mountain. Probably hundreds of animals that dazzled the sunlight as the moved in heards through the grass. So, there you are, a banished soul who is welcomed by a massive rock outdcrop and golden flashes from her base. A whole new world and the first thing you see if The Mountain.
Today your mountain is my mountain. No matter who you are or where you come from when you look up at The Mountain, we are familair to each other and we are all home.