Letters to the Editor

Goodnight Madiba

Nelson Mandela, painted at the La Demeure du Chaos - The Abode of Chaos, Lyons, France.  - Courtesy of Organ Museum
Nelson Mandela, painted at the La Demeure du Chaos - The Abode of Chaos, Lyons, France.
— image credit: Courtesy of Organ Museum

Semiahmoo Secondary grad Lindi Nolte was born in South Africa and came to Canada when she was nine.

Following Thursday's death of anti-Apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela at age 95, Nolte – who's currently in Laos – offered this tribute for the publication of this spoken-word tribute (at bottom) that was posted on YouTube this past summer.

For Nelson Mandela —

Mandela
Before you go to sleep
I'd like to tell you a story
and if you don't wake to see the dawn
know that your legend lives on

You were the first black man I fell in love with
and boy, were you trouble
(or at least that's what they named you
Rolihlahla in Xhosa means 'trouble maker'
maybe his father saw an ember in his eyes
that would spark one of the biggest revolutions
and by giving him the name trouble
he gave him permission not to live a subtle
existence)

You were so persistent in your pursuit of freedom
— 94 years is a long journey to walk
from first baby steps to your death bed
and I bet your hands are still stained chalk
from the years you educated my country
on how to speak in unison
Nelson Mandela
teacher of love and forgiveness
your voice strengthened theirs
and my prayer is that you carry peace when
your feet walk to heavens door on the last steps of your journey
when you get there, will you thank God for me
July 18th, 1918
for the heart he gave you.
for the clay he fashioned into your hands
that built this house
for the resilient spine that could not break

Tata:
you fathered a crippled family
divided by the colour of flesh
sewed our differences into a rainbow nation quilt
covered us warm
with promises that the monsters under
our bed have fled

South Africa
when the silence descends and we inhale his last
exhale
I hope we breathe easy
I am so sure that his last wish
would be to abolish
the pendulum from swinging back
put the long knives down
the night is not coming,
our soil has swallowed enough blood
to know that lungs breathe easier without remorse
the bullet scars in your grandfathers hearts
do not need to fire shots of revenge into our children's children's children's ears
rather listen to the echoing of his words:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

South Africa,
we do not have to scrounge for scraps
of love
there is abundance here
vultures fly elsewhere

Let him be the reason we prosper further
let our stomping feet be heard across the globe

let the world know that we are not done yet
that we have barely gotten started
that being martyred is a thing of our past
and when they question if we're ready
if they dare ask if we're made of shatterproof glass
we will roar
we will walk with courageous feet
unafraid of calluses or thorns

We will march forward
We will not remember you Mandela
we will live you
memories are too backwards driven
and you preached forward motion
the kind of bravery that you cast
is the kind that lasts
but this long walk to freedom is far from
over
South Africa

but it's time to say Goodnight Madiba.

Goodnight Mandela.

 

 

— written by South African: Lindi Nolte 2013, Vancouver, Canada

 

 

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