I’ve been reading as many articles, eulogies, letters of praise and the like about Madiba, his life and peoples relationships with him. I guess it’s my way of feeling more connected to him, understanding him better and perhaps feeling a little more a part of the legacy he wanted.
Most of the things I’ve read I knew or are general knowledge but every now and again there are some of the things that I wanted to learn and understand. The piece written in TIME, Called Mandela. Protestor. Prisoner, Peacemaker (you really should read it) by Richard Stengel, who wrote the Long Walk To Freedom, is incredibly interesting. I keep thinking of Shakespeare’s quote ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them’ over and over while reading this, because this essentially is one of the greatest examples of it.
It seems in a different time and space Madiba would have been a small time rural lawyer unconcerned with anything like the global icon he became. It appears that as he progressed through life the simple basic human feeling of being treated fairly, or rather the lack thereof in his life pushed him to become the political activist that blossomed into the statesman we all loved so dearly.
It’s an interesting lesson and I think summed up so well by Samuel Dash who was an American lawyer and one of the first to visit Madiba in prison. He said ‘I felt that I was in the presence not of a guerilla fighter or radical ideologue, but a head of state.’ This was in the early 80s before anyone could have really imagined what he would become. It shows us that so often we think categorical change needs to come from radicals, extremists, militants or die-hards. The truth has been proven that great, mature, measured and the most impactful progressive change comes from men who believe in something simple like freedom or fairness.
Perhaps the reason I grow so angry so quickly about South Africa’s current state is that like Madiba, and I in no way intend to compare myself to this demi god but rather to identify with one of his feelings, the simple act of unfairness drives me mad. My whole life, the only thing that in life, sport, relationships etc has ever made me mad, raging mad is fundamental unfairness. The rest I guess is part of life but when people can behave in a fair manner and choose not to, that I understand as a reason to fight!
I realize given South Africa’s past there needs to be a period of adjustment but what we are seeing now is so far from that. The blatant stealing, corruption and greed of our president and his family and friends is enough to make one want to bury their head in their hands and weep for what would seem a wasted war waged by the freedom fighters of the 80s and 90s. They didn’t give their freedom to have the smallest few stealing from the masses driving them ever further into poverty.
The reason I fill with rage every time I see a case of corruption dropped or swept under the carpet is that most of us work, build, grind and sweat to make money and yet the political elite seem to just steal it, that’s not fair. The reason I rage is that poverty is on the rise and education on the decline and the elite are simply stealing the future from our children and our country and pissing it away on booze and fast cars. What a nation we have become.
AS I read I feel my hands shaking with anger that this man gave so much, restrained so much and created so much for a nation that has just spat in his face and continued gorging at the buffet of corruption. You disgust me, all of you.
He didn’t want praise, he didn’t want fireworks, he didn’t want fame and he certainly didn’t want riches. He wanted a nation that was fair and free. I shudder to think how he would feel about what we have become as a nation and it makes me furious, I guess I just can’t believe it doesn’t make everyone else.