Our beloved Madiba has gone to the realm of his ancestors from where I hope he will continue to guide us.
His departure was not unexpected, in fact, it was more than timely, and even so, I feel bereft. What I feel is diminished, but so so grateful that he was such a strong part of my life.
There is nothing I can add to what has been said and written, and to what will continue to be said and written about Mandela. I want to write about his impact on me, from a totally personal and subjective view. I cannot write this without honoring my parents.
My parents were born in South Africa. They raised us, their children, to be aware of the injustices of apartheid. Our eyes were opened from a young, tender, and impressionable age, and dictated all the future choices we made in our lives.
My parents belonged to a party called the Liberal Party, and their motto was "one man one vote." The party eventually has to disband when it became illegal for a party to represent people of every color that make up South Africa.My father was a lawyer, and at the dinner table he would quote from the speech Mandela gave in his defense at the Rivonia Trial. We listened to the trial on the radio and read about it in the Rand Daily Mail. Of course it became illegal for the media to quote or to read from anything written by Mandela. He became a non being, and if it weren't for my parents, I would have been quite unaware of him, or what he stood for. My dad also gave me the book "Let My People Go" by Chief Albert Luthuli. He told me about the African National Congress, then everything was banned - it was illegal to have these books or to read from them. The fear of what the Government could do permeated our lives. Later, much later, I met Luthuli's daughter in Atlanta, but that is another story.
My parents met Mandela, and Oliver Thambo. They were both very impressed by Mandela, by his stature, intelligence, and compassion.
These were the people I heard about at the dinner table and in my home. I was made to understand that their struggle was for every South African, no matter their colour.
Eventually I chose to leave South Africa. Not too long after that my whole family left. One leaves one's country through choice, or because one has to flee, but it is there ones' roots remain no matter how hard we tried to uproot ourselves, and so we avidly followed the ongoing unfolding story of South Africa.
Madiba led the country through change and all South Africans felt better in the world, no longer pariahs. His influence spread over the entire planet. Indeed, we are all connected, over space and time. This is what his passing has made so clear to me, the eternal lesson. We are all interconnected. One man's death diminishes us all.
May we continue to live up to his legacy and to honour him and his teachings wherever we are in the world.