Since hearing the news last Thursday of the passing of Nelson Mandela, our beloved Madiba, I have been longing to be able to share the experience with my friends in South Africa. Although we all knew the time would come when he would no longer be physically with us, it has been hard to absorb. He had been through so much, accomplished the seemingly impossible.
But his time has come, as it must to all of us. On Sunday he will be laid to rest with the ancestors. We are left to remember, to cry, to celebrate, to sing and to dance, to carry on his work. Watching the SABC-TV live streaming of the memorial service all day on Tuesday, I was reminded about the meaning of his life for ours. As I reflected on all the news pieces flooding in on the radio, TV and Internet, I feel a sense of gratitude for this life, and yes, a sense of sadness. The words of Maya Angelou in her tribute poem … His Day is Done, written after Mandela’s passing, says it all… The final verse reads: :
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
We confess it in tearful voices
Yet we lift our own to say
Thank You, Our Gideon.
Thank You, Our David.
Our great courageous man
We will not forget you
We will not dishonor you
We will remember and be glad
That you lived among us
That you taught us
That you loved us
Mandela has given the world so much; now it our turn to receive these gifts and to pass them on. Our beloved Madiba showed us the way forward when he asked that his birthday be honoured by each of us giving at least 67 minutes of service to our communities, our countries, our world in recognition of the 67 years he had devoted to the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.
He gave… we received the blessing… and now that he has joined the ancestors, it is our turn to give, to pass on the blessing … to make the world a better place for all.
How will you honour Madiba’s life today? To whom and what will you give?