Tuesday, 10 December 2013

What Mandela's struggle meant to me...

Nine months ago, I was a stranger to this land, and as a stranger does so often, I only knew Nelson Mandela as a great leader and as a great Gandhian who fought against an unjust system and won after a long, hard struggle... How long or how hard the struggle was, eluded me... now nine months living in South Africa and having studied the history of the land, having talked to many of the people who inhabit this land and after visits to certain historical landmarks, I can safely say, that Nelson Mandela was not only a leader of South Africa but of all the people who seem to have lost hope.

Last Thursday night when he breathed his last, South Africa not only lost it's father, but the world lost a great humanist. It's only fitting that his Memorial Service is being held today, the 10th of December, which also happens to be the International Human Rights Day... Nothing could have fitted the occasion more than  the ode being paid to this great leader.

Since the passing away of Madiba (as he was affectionately called here) the South African weather also seem to be mournful. The cheerful and sunny weather has given way to a rainy, gloomy and cloudy weather, though according to the local lore, it is a good sign. It means that God is now ready to accept a great soul into his kingdom and the rains are his symbol for the said event.

Last Friday, when most South Africans woke up to the historic news of Madiba's passing away, I and my husband Rahul went to have coffee at a nearby coffee house... all around me were the images of the great man and news were flying thick and fast about the days to come... Beside us, there were these two white gentlemen who were equally absorbed in the news when it suddenly occurred to me that if it was not for Nelson Mandela, I and Rahul would have never been able to sit so freely beside those two white men... we would have our separate enclosure and maybe we would have been sitting outside in the rain...

What Mandela taught us most importantly is that before any other considerations, we are all human beings, not a whole lot of Indians of my generation will understand it but if I told you that even nineteen years ago, I would be put be put in Jail for writing this blogpost, just because of my color, you would understand, what I mean, when I say, Nelson Mandela fought not only for South Africa, but also for you and me...and for the hope we all have...