As we receive spurts of updates on the condition of Nelson Mandela (through our lovely, censored channels of mainstream media sources), I am reminded of how much grace one can possess in times of distress and adversity.
During Nelson Mandela's inauguration in 1994, he read a poem by Ingrid Jonker-- who Mandela described as a person like himself, who'd risen up for the people of South Africa and shouted FREEDOM!.
Her life was cut short at the early age of 31, when she walked into the icy Atlantic at Cape Town. Perhaps, she felt hopeless, or trapped, or saddened by the injustices in the world. Perhaps, she saw all the work that wouldn't be done in her lifetime.
We look back and see these people as martyrs who helped change/shape the world. But yet these issues still exist today: we still imprison those who speak their minds too openly, and for thinking something other than what is fed to us like our daily milk and grain. And the violence continues, at the hands of absolved individuals who brutalize and manipulate their ways to the top.
It's so easy to honor those who came before us with the words they spoke or wrote. But what if we were to put those ideas and beliefs into action? What if we actually went beyond ideology and didn't let history repeat itself? Now what kind of world would it be then?
two poems by ingrid jonker:
The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart
The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath
of righteousness and blood
in the streets of his embattled pride
The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain
The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa
the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
Without a pass
"i repeat you"
I repeat you
Without beginning or end,
I repeat your body.
The day has a thin shadow
and the night yellow crosses
the landscape without regard
and the people a row candles
while I repeat you
with my breasts
that reform the hollows of your hands