May 21, 2018
Give honor to whom honor is due. Few are more deserving than Nelson Mandela.
July 18th marks 100 years since his birth. South Africa is celebrating his life and legacy of leadership that changed not only its history, but the world.
I had the opportunity and privilege of retracing some of his steps, visiting his former homes, the law office he shared with Oliver Tambo in Johannesburg, Liliesleaf, a farm, that was a secret meeting place for freedom fighters, the site in Howick where he was captured, the Old Fort Prison Complex and Drakenstein prison, where he served the last months of his sentence and from where he took that awesome walk to freedom that no one can forget.
Each stop there were storytellers sharing truths about a nation struggling to break the bonds of apartheid and “Madiba”. It was hard to hear and heavy for the heart. Tears would come and the stomach tighten.
I’m not sure what touched me more, the stories about his commitment to the movement, the sacrifices he made – often putting the needs of a people before his family, or those of his kindness and love of children. He was such a gentle giant, that when he found a mouse in his living quarters at Drakenstein he asked that it not be killed. He walked with the man who would get rid of it, to be sure the mouse was released into the wild.
To walk in his footprints is powerful. You feel the pain and are challenged to do more, to be better, and you realize sadly, the freedom fight is far from over. You find the Madiba in you.