Far, far away, but still feeling the love

2013-12-07 00:00

THE television coverage is beautiful and heart wrenching. Reflections about Nelson Mandela, his life and death, are dominating the news stations, both locally and nationally. America is remembering him fondly and looking at how he has inspired the world. Facebook and Twitter are both abuzz with memorials and condolences. I am a little surprised at how consuming it is, based on how ethnocentic American culture can be. Seeing how even small town America is responding is moving and heart warming. Several media outlets have interviewed Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who both have talked about how inspiring Nelson Mandela was.

At a time like this, my African heart longs to be home. I want to grieve with my nation and have the collective experience. I long for the community of people who understand without translation. Oh, to feel that palpable admiration and love for Madiba as he is remembered and honoured. But that is not to be and so from a distance some of us will grieve with you, fellow South Africans, and remember the beautiful smile, the stern look of determination, the celebratory dancing, the rich patterned shirts, the gestures of reconciliation, the pride in calling him OUR president and the legacy that remains. And now the challenge remains to live out the ideals that he dedicated his life to.

• Born and bred in Pietermaritzburg, Arlene Kasselmann now lives in Texas.

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