As was customary, Friday night is ‘date night’ in my house. The Triumph, a story of spiritual growth and mystical experience, was showing in the Screen in Dublin. A young man, on the quest for answers, visited a holy site of Medjugorje.
As it turned out something far more important was unfolding in this great world of ours. I returned home, checked Twitter and saw the news that Nelson Mandela was dead. Now, just a day since his passing, there have already been millions of words written about the man, his legacy, who he was, where he came from, what he did, what he inspired and how his existence empowered so many. It doesn’t seem he is dead, just existing in another form. He lives on.
When I was a little girl, I learned about South Africa, a place where white people got to decide how black people lived. I wrote to the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement asking them what it was I could do. As a little girl, not much but as it turned out, it influenced the course of my life. In secondary school, I followed his journey from prison to the Presidential elections when he triumphed. I have a vivid memory of our history teacher turning on the television during class so we could watch history in the making as Mandela cast his vote in the 1994 South African elections. The queues of people waiting to cast their precious vote looked like delicate lines snaking across the countryside. They knew it was important because Mandela showed them that anything worthwhile is worth waiting for and worth giving all you’ve got.
Sadness is quick to the heart when I realise this fine human is no longer with us. Thankfully Nelson Mandela lived a big life, walked this earth loudly, a reminder of what was possible. It matters how people treat one another but no matter about prejudiced understanding, people have and will prevail against all odds. Because of Nelson Mandela, we know what is possible. He made the impossible possible by being instrumental in transforming a corrupted state of racist toxicity into the Rainbow Nation. When it came to transforming South Africa, the impossible just took a little longer.
It is with thanks I see the abundance of one person’s life so great to nourish and transform the lives of millions of others. The apartheid regime attempted to limit Nelson Mandela by planting him in the confines of prison Robben Island, silencing his message. No matter. He triumphed with dignity and grace and what a joyful noise he made doing it! Beyond all our years, while there will never be another like him, we are all the richer for knowing Mandiba. He lives on in each person that changes themselves to be a better person and to be instruments of peace… balm to this troubled world.