Friends & Friction: Madiba: No words will ever do justice

2013-12-16 10:00

Go well, Loved One. Go well.

Your work is done and you’ve won your race with grace. The gold on the podium was never a distraction to the goal of freedom.

Robert Sobukwe said: “Africa for Africans,” and you said: “The land shall belong to all those who live in it.”

Steve Biko said: “Black man you are on your own,” and you showed us that the black person can lead the world.

Oh Madiba, millions of words will be spoken and written about you, but none will ever do justice.

At your memorial, the angels and all the oppressed of the Earth wept, and a torrent of tears came down.

It was not rain that was falling, it was the tears of the Palestinians, the Darfuris and the Tibetans.

Maybe the Dalai Lama wept too, exiled from the funeral of his own friend; and in a thunderless rain, lightning struck the heart of the president whom the people booed.

Rest now, Madiba. Rest. For dead you are not. You will forever live in the hearts of the liberated, and in the minds of those who were born free.

You will live in the hearts of the mothers who lost their sons and daughters in the bush and in prisons, on the streets and in their homes; and those who disappeared, through your Madiba magic, you made them find a way to forgive the unforgivable.

You will also live in the hearts of their tormentors, who live freely because of your magnanimity. You gave dignity to lowly prisoners and to dignitaries who have no dignity, and made us realise that politics can be dignified.

You were a true African.

You danced a lot, laughed a lot, and were gentle and humble to pose for countless photographs with ordinary men and women and their children.

But when the need arose, you were as fierce as a black-maned lion or as cunning as a fox.

The world will remember how you outsmarted the Afrikaners, and how you stole their hearts at the 1995 rugby World Cup.

You had the foresight to recognise the last kick of a dying evil and the wisdom to minimise its menace.

You resisted revenge attacks when they killed Chris Hani, and swallowed the pain of the death of your people in Boipatong.

You smiled when your comrade Harry Gwala ridiculed your peaceful stance, and you made the Zulu King swap sides in public.

Bafana Bafana couldn’t help but reward you with the Africa Cup of Nations.

You inspired new artists and new genres.

You inspired Mirriam Makeba with Bahleli Bonke and you inspired Brenda Fassie with Black President, a song which was less about the colour of the president but more about the colourlessness of achievement.

Somewhere today, a black person is sitting in a place that was illegal for her to sit in less than 25 years ago.

A group of people of different races are praying together, mourning your passing.

Somewhere, children of different races are playing together and sometimes teasing each other like normal children do – all thanks to your idealism.

Heads of state came out in their numbers and their people across the world glorified you in their capitals and in their private homes – not only because you were so magnificent, but because the soil and the people that shaped you are as magnificent.

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