Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Thoughts on great men

It has now been just over a week since Nelson Mandela died. A week where my emotions have surprised me. We were at The Test Kitchen last Thursday night, and our dinner was drawing to a close, I opened twitter, much to the horror of my husband and was getting all ready to post something about the truly incredible meal I had just devoured, when I saw Debor*ah Pat&ta’s tweet saying that there was frenzied activity outside Mandela’s Houghton home; then the cracker quotes from Mahar^aj saying that all was in status quo at the house; followed by the one that the president was preparing to address the nation… Driving back to Simonstown from Woodstock we listened to his emotionally choked words that our Tata was no more. (Gosh, I still get goosebumps) In the quiet dark night, it was appropriate. In the car we were all lost in our own thoughts and swirling emotions. I was numb, and ever medical thoughts shifted to what had happened, was it pneumonia, the old man’s friend? Renal failure? And then all of a sudden it didn’t matter any more. A giant had fallen. A giant who had given us everything, and more – his freedom, his family, his soul. A sacrifice I can hardly comprehend.

On Friday driving around Cape Town listening to the radio, listening to anecdotes and sentimental tunes on the radio, I cried, I sobbed. For the man who came to symbolise our ‘New’ South African hope was gone. I sobbed for what I fear it means for our beautiful land. Yes, I know he was an old man who deserved his rest, but it felt a bit like that Santa moment. You know its too good to be true that a jolly fellow with a crazy red suit drops off gifts in the night, but you want the fantasy to last, to continue the magic. Similarly, I don’t think I really wanted this moment to come. I cried with relief that his physical agony was over. I cried because I believe he has found that peace that passes all human understanding…

I cried for a family who has to so publically mourn. Grief is hard enough to handle, and I know quite how devastating the loss of my father will be to me, I watched Charlie and his family mourn their Dad this year; and I cannot imagine going through that with the world watching – commenting on social media over who said what, what they wore, did they look sad enough, and ‘OMG, did you see Obama snub Winnie?’ Too much, too much.

Driving home in pouring rain I listened to some of the memorial service in JHB on Tuesday, I was astounded by the words of Obama – no wonder he is the leader of the free world. I cried to hear Madiba raised to sainthood, when he was actually just a man. A man from Qunu, who achieved greatness. To call him a saint detracts from who he really was, reduces his achievements.

I cried for a generation who will not know integrity, who will know corruption, spin and deceit from our leaders. Mandela was a principled  reasonable man; who stood for something, not himself…

I cried for Madiba, MyDiba, Thandi’s Diba, OurDiba…

Enkosi kakulu Tata, lala kahle.

(while I know this is far from the eloquent eulogies you have read already, forgive me this indulgence)

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