Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela!

Today ntate Mandela is 63 years old, if you consider the fact that he spent 27 years in jail for wanting to live like a human, and wanting the same thing for his people. But he’s really 90 years old, if you consider the fact that he used those 27 years to change South Africa and, I dare say, the world. He changed me. Happy birthday, ntate Mandela.

In 1981 my family ran away from Lesotho, as the then government of Lesotho had tried to kill my father, and killed my 3-year old nephew, instead. How does one forgive? My country is completely surrounded by South Africa, so we had to find ourselves in South Africa at some point, in our quest for asylum elsewhere. While we were there, we were duly picked up for pass law offences by the SAP.

We spent 24 hours in prison. It was very long. And there was a lot of sadism on the part of the gaolers. I won’t go into details but one of their favourite practices was sleep deprivation. The next day we went to court and faced a judge: “Why didn’t you have your pass?” The fact that we were not South Africans took a very long time to register. Not that black South Africans had to carry the damn thing, but I mean…

Once we were out, I had an experience. I had a light bulb above my head, just like in cartoons, and the hair on my arms stood on end. The name Nelson Mandela dropped of it’s own accord into my head, and I truly, really understood why he had sacrificed his life against this… thing. For that particular zombie instant, hair on end, a stupid smile on my face, I knew why. I want to wish him a happy birthday today, and tell him that we know.

5 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela!”

  1. Always remember to forget
    The troubles that have passed away
    But never forget to remember
    The blessings that come each day
    Like you, we all have stories
    The world is thankful for the name
    Nelson Mandela Happy Birthday

    Beautys last blog post..Looking for good in Lagos

  2. Freedom’s Dream In Cell 46664

    27 years had passed, and the skin
    of the prison cell No. 46664 stank of a
    human right denied

    Feebly, the freedom fighter
    gazed at the light that beamed from the dream he had carved in his spirit,
    In that prison, his dream aimed at fighting man’s domination over another still glowed

    The freedom fighter lifted his left fist into the air,
    As though seeking heaven’s answer,
    Cherishing the idea of a free society
    In that dark and cockroach-infested space

    Deep in his soul he desired to pluck a seed of faith from the sky’s womb,
    To carry freedom’s struggle another day,
    And whisper to the winds of time

    To plant a fire in his people’s bosoms
    So they could gather courage to rise beyond the confinement
    Of man-made chains

    In spite of his faith, the heavens remained still
    So he put his head down, and tore into the
    depth of his guerilla-skin with freedom’s spikes,

    Then suddenly, his voice cracked and filled the void,
    Traversing the gaping distances
    Like an angel run amok

    Till it reverberated across the mountains and valleys
    Of the dictator’s oppressive rule

    Our blood jumped hot at the sound of his call
    And in our silenced oppression, we found ourselves muttering
    vowels of freedom:

    “Freedom Now, Freedom Now”

    Even though the tyrant’s chains remained stuck
    Round our necks

    The freedom fighter’s dream burned deep in our hearts.

    Then, one day, the ripples of our hope
    Grew into a crest-high wave
    That tore through the dictator’s barbed walls
    And made us believe again

    In freedom’s cause -

    Not just for ourselves
    But for all humanity.

    Masimba Biriwashas last blog post..Visionary Politics: Saving the Environment for Future Generations

  3. Hi Rethabile

    First time on your blog. Your story reminds me of my in laws from Maseru. My brother-in-law’s father was also booted from Maseru and lived in Jozifor a couple of years. He was friends with Masuku Pheko and thus an enemy of the state

    Keep writing, i’ll bookmark this site and contribute some more.

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