Hi Everyone. Happy Thursday. I hope you will forgive that there is no card or wildlife photos on my blog post tonight.
I really want to dedicate this post to a man who was not only influential in my own life, but in the lives of millions.
Tonight, a nation weeps for the loss of an esteemed and much revered leader. A man who made an indelible mark in so many ways. A man who taught us that crafting a future based on hatred was not the right way to forge a new nation.
There are times in all of our lives that we remember, with intense clarity. The shooting of John F Kennedy. The Moon Landing. The death of Diana, Princess of Wales. There are two others that I add to my list. The day that a man called Wilhelm De Klerk asked the White's of South Africa to cast a vote on the sharing of power. A day that many of us had fought and prayed for. Taking out South African citizenship so that I could cast my vote was one of the single most important things I have ever done in my life.
I knew that vote was important not to me.... but to millions of people, some of them my very good friends. People who had been deprived of status. Had been deprived of the right to vote. Had been deprived of the right to the same salary. The right to walk about the streets without being accosted and being made to show their registration papers. The right to education of a decent standard.
Voting is - without doubt - an inalienable right. A right that ny female forebares risked their lives for. This was the first time I had ever voted and it couldn't have been on a more important subject.
I was teaching the day of the vote. One of my colleagues was in my class. We had a radio playing quietly in the background so that we could hear when votes would be announced. On my board the front of the classroom was the list of states whose votes had been counted and whether it was a yay or nay vote. My classroom was the busiest place that day as people kept coming in to see the results. I remember the cheer that erupted for every yes, and the silence for the single no. I went home that day so proud that the right thing had been done.
Move forward to a warm summer day. February 11 1990. We watched the TV in anticipation until a proud, old man, walked out into the stinging sun. Nelson Mandela took the world stage having been a prisoner of an apartheid regime for 27 years. On the day he accepted the leadership of South Africa an unknown man stood with him on the podium. The man who had been his jailer. We knew then that Nelson Mandela would be different. He taught a nation how to forgive. He led a nation in reconciliation. He led a nation to a sporting event that was epic - not in just the winning of the game - but in how he brought a nation to stand behind a sport that had been so traditionally non-inclusive.
Nelson Mandela was a man with many facets. Much like the diamonds that helped shape South Africa's future. He was a man who was as rich of heart as the gold mines below the earth. He became not just a freedom fighter, but a man who enjoined an entire nation to come together as a rainbow nation.
He was a great man.
No-one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
People must learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Nelson Rolilhlahla Mandela, 1918-2013
Rest in peace, Madiba. A nation weeps for you tonight.