This year broke my heart. On so many levels. Some, I cannot, yet, speak of. I’ll speak only of what is now. Today, yesterday.
Three great men died, each one influenced me. Two were little in the greater scheme of things, but greatly influenced my (and many, many others’) world, made me a better person, changed my world. The third changed the whole world. And mine.
On my 15th birthday, the ANC was unbanned, the second of February, 1990. Nine days later, on my mother’s (ahem’th) birthday, the same year, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, after 27 years.
We watched on TV, as he walked out of prison in Paarl, as white South Africans living in one of the last outposts of Apartheid (we were there because that’s where my Dad’s work was.) I remember wishing I was on the Grand Parade.
Today, 23 years later, I was on the Grand Parade. I took lavender from my garden and I cried for the man who made me proud to be South African.
We walked up to St George’s Cathedral and put lavender there too. I’m not religious, but the gentle silence of that huge stone building with its beautiful stained glass windows. Sitting in the cool silence we lit candles and I thought of what that one man did and was overwhelmed.
Then we walked through the Company Gardens, with its towering trees, through sprayers that cooled us in the sweltering heat, kids playing, people living, a palpable sadness muffling the city sounds as we all mourned, but lived still. How privileged we are to be here, now. It’s so terribly, terribly, sad, but he’s brought us all together. Again.
What an amazing man. Rest in Peace Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.