A tribute and letter of farewell. Hamba kahle Baba. Go well Father.
Portrait of Nelson Mandela from 21 Icons. © Adrian Steirn and courtesy 21 Icons | South Africa.
Queuing at the tuck shop during break times at primary school was just the sweetest place to be. Redemption by toasted sandwich I call it
If I had five Rand to spare it would always go to a cup of peach frozen yoghurt; Primary school in post ’94 Johannesburg. It wasn’t that there were now black girls in khaki skirts teasing my ‘skinny malinky long legs,’ alongside the white girls, which I recall as the moment in which South Africa became new, but the time in the queue the R5 in my small palm was absorbingly unfamiliar: on it the freshly minted glimmer of Nelson Mandela’s face. I passed it around triumphantly only to be scoffed at by Brandon; ‘duh, special edition, freakazoid.’ he prodded. Wow, special edition! The significance of Brandon’s quip more palpable today than ever.
In the past few years bank notes in South Africa have rolled out wearing Madiba’s good-humored look; the characterization of deliverance. His expression on our notes being passed between the hands of prophets and pirates, whites and blacks, between the palms of a republic. The humanity Nelson Mandela stands for, legal tender. The freedom from mental slavery we all so badly need, now built into our currency. Our hands made strong by the song of freedom Mandela’s face infers.
I’m 100% certain we will all come to individually realize the role you played in our lives, Madiba. It’s with a swelling tenderness and reverence that I raise my cup to the stars in tribute to you, your good name and the richness you left behind we can all now spend so freely.
Thank you for your sacrifice Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, I dedicate this small token to you.
The pause taken yesterday to take stock of his formidable existence unknowingly morphed into hours spent reflecting upon the meaning of his passing. What we’re left with is a brightness calling us to achieve our greatest heights, but still remain human. After all it was Mandela who, upon being called a saint countered; “… if a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
We’ve complied what we think are memorable and intriguing, obscure but good, deep and revealing tributes that rose to the top of the flood of homages to Madiba on his passing yesterday.
Offerings recently released in his honor covering his life from literary, photographic, archival, video, personal and ephemeral aspects.
Ahmed Kathrada, one of 10 co-defendants in the Rivonia Trials. Incarcerated in Robben Island with Madiba, he spent more than 26 years in prison. Yesterday South Africa’s Daily Maverick published his tribute to his close and dear friend.
I had the enviable privilege of being alive and walking the earth with you through the bad times and the good. It has been a long walk, with many challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. And yet we never faltered, and the strength of leaders like you and Walter always shone a light on the path and kept our destination and our people’s future in view.
I feel bereft and lonely. To whom do I turn for solace, comfort, and advice?
– Ahmed (Madala) Kathrada
From Shakespeare to Steinbeck and Machiavelli in-between, Okayafrica hits the academic frontline memorializing the man between the bookends of the clandestine literature he surreptitiously read within the cages of Robben Island in their homage to ‘The Revolutionary.’
One of the sad realities today is that very few people, especially young people, read books. Unless we can find imaginative ways of addressing this reality, future generations are in danger of losing their history.
– Nelson Mandela
Born in 1918, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory timelines Madiba’s life from his childhood groomed for chieftainship, to the opening of his law firm deep within the rotten bowels of 1940’s Johannesburg alongside his boy Oliver Tambo who fought side by side, and up to the later part of his life as South Africa’s leading statesman. The archive includes rare text, images, videos, hand-written diary entries amongst other memorabilia.
Nelson Mandela in a group photo taken in 1938 at Healdtown School (detail). From the Gilbert Nzimeni Collection.
Courtesy of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
One cringeworthy, confused and twisted image of former president F.W De Klerk’s wife, keeping her back to Madiba at his inauguration, sits within Time’s lightbox eulogy to the dark South African epoch. Time commemorates one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time, and his period, with a guest contribution by Pulitzer winning photographer David Turnley.
The lead portrait image above, from the 21 Icons South Africa project shot by Adrian Steirn; his intention that “when we look at that portrait, we can reflect on ourselves, we can reflect on his legacy and we can reflect on our future.”
Aljazeera’s In Pictures coverage of epic moments such as when he looked his jailor, hardliner and former President P.W. Botha in the eye, and sat down beside him.
Why I Am Ready To Die’, a rare 33rpm record that included official anti-apartheid statements from Pope Paul VI, the late Pandit Nehru and Laurence Olivier. In 2013, it is hard to imagine that a cause based album would be endorsed with official statements from world leaders. This one of many illuminating artifacts within flatinternational, a South African Audio Archive of visuals holding examples of the freedom movement headed by Mandela.
‘WHY I AM READY TO DIE’. 33rpm produced by Christian Action, 1964 (UK).
Cover design by Gerald Fifer. Courtesy of flatinternational.
IN SONG, SPOKEN WORD AND MOVING IMAGES
The Guardian’s audio extracts from Nelson Mandela’s statement, “Why I Am Ready to Die” made from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage at the supreme court of South Africa in Pretoria on 20 April 1964.
I love The Specials and was rapturous to discover them along with Amy Winehouse, Miles Davis and the brilliant Zambian rapper Zubz on the normally more tongue than cheek Africa is a Country. Their playlist, ‘Songs For Mandela’includes the Ska originators campaign from 1984 to ‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ During last night’s media coverage AIAC thankfully kept the twittiverse on track, when they remind us that Mandela was
not the first black president, but the first democratically elected South African president.
Last but not least, Botlhale Boikanyo’s performance at the 2012 South Africa’s Got Talent competition. The video that went viral in the Republic, spells out the horsepower of Madiba’s sacrifice, not just with cogent word, but with the visceral alloy Mandela endowed upon our youth. “… thinking they were breaking his spirit… little did they know they would be paying him to break barriers.” interwoven with “…the greatest sacrifice of all is sacrificing yourself. Had it not been for your sacrifices where would I be? Thank You Tata for you made me proudly South African.”
Written by Kyle Tregurtha.