Happy Birthday Madiba!

Happy Birthday Mandela

Tatamkhulu Afrika

Warrior and Peacemaker.

Freedom Fighter and Prisoner.

President and Great Grand father.

You showed no indecision

in fighting injustice.

Young, Proud and Bold

you struck out Defiantly

giving yourself no option

But the Quest of Freedom

the Journey of Struggle

the Destiny of  Heroism

the Epitome of Ubuntu.

No slave to Fate

No stranger to courage

No risk not ventured

on the long road you tread.

The path you leave

is clear and wide and light,

though steep for those who seek

an easy way to reach the heights

where you have climbed.

How to give thanks?

How to honour the Legacy

of  Dignity, Sensibility and Justice?

of Sacrifice, Service and Contribution?

Only through our pledge:

To walk our own long road

Using your footholds,

Heartened by the trial

of giving ourselves fully

to the building of  Tomorrow

with Hope, Dignity, Justice

with what is Good, Right and New.

A tomorrow worthy of more

Like you.

Peace, Dearest Trouble Maker,

Peace, Rolihlahla Mandela….

In Honour of Mandela Day, 18 July 2011.

In response to Three Word Wednesday’s prompts:

Option, Indecision, Fate.



Making my mark…taking on the world

17 Years down the line, is the “New” South Africa already giving up on Democracy?

I remember the exhiliration, the joy, the PRIDE with which South Africans queued to vote in 1994. Many of us do. It was a euphoric, historic day that marked the transformation of South Africa, the liberation of it’s people and the possibility of the celebration of diversity despite the ghastly past. I remember how we boasted about the time spent lining up to make our mark, evidence of our new found national pride. Desmond Tutu writes about that day as being “like falling in love- everything was brighter”.

Barriers were broken as people shared sandwiches, umbrellas and water in those queues. There was not only this new neighbourliness, there was also laughter, excitement, suspense…and there was the promise of a bright and inpiring future.

Not a promise made by government, mind. What lingered in the air, in the smiles, in the hearts of the people was their promise to live into that future fulfilled;  their promise to participate where they were not allowed to participate before; their promise to use their voice.

But a sombre atmosphere pervaded the voting stations today. Aside from the music blaring from party kiosks where sweets and balloons were dispensed, voters themselves were sombre.

I was sombre.

My spirits were dampened by the apathy I’m present to. In the conversations I have had with family and friends over the past few weeks, I have got present to the disempowering impact of resignation and cynicism. It spreads. People share complaints with such generosity, you’d swear it was charity. A group of friends or colleagues start a conversation inspired by newspaper headlines or the daily cartoon. Heads nod, mouths turn down in bitterness, even more heads shake and shoulders stoop. Pretty soon there’s a smell of disgust in the air.  The group disperses heavier than when they met. More committed to their cynicism. Less inclined to effect change.

Party politics aside, I am unhappy with government in South Africa. There are serious issues: corruption, unemployment, service delivery…yes, the list is rather long. But I do not understand the value of a complaint that is not taken to the people who can actually deal with that. How else will I get the complaint resolved? Or is there a greater a commitment to the complaint than to the solution?

I understand that everyone doesn’t want to change the world. That’s what I get a lot: “You can’t change the world, you know!”

But who says? Who says that we can’t change the world?

We do. When we aren’t willing to do what it takes to make the necessary difference. When we accept that we’ll always have complaints cause “that’s life”. When we say it doesn’t matter whether we vote or not. We say, “We can’t change the world.”

I often wonder what made men like Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Salahdin Ayubi, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela- what made them great? Were they really just extraordinary? Some of my students suggest that they lived in “troubled times that required heroes. ” I can’t help believing that they were people like us. What distinguished them was their willingness to put their life on the line, to give up their complaints about how the world wasn’t as it should be and to make the difference themselves!

If not your mark on the ballot, what are YOU willing to put on the line?