Break It Down!
Last Thursday, the venerable (Nelson) Rolihlahla Mandela, former, and first black, President of South Africa, died. Yesterday, in the fifth day of a ten-day observance memorializing Ta Ta’s (referred to thusly because he is considered a Father figure by many South Africans, but also the Father of the South African nation) life and accomplishments, President Obama was among those chosen to speak at the service. The following CNN link includes a video and transcript of President Obama’s remarks: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/politics/mandela-obama-remarks/
Most Americans know the story of President Obama and of the improbable nature of his rise to prominence. While it is true, in 2004, few Americans would have been bold enough, or prescient enough, or even crazy enough to predict that a black man in the Illinois State Senate would by 2014 be in the second year of his second term as President of the United States. Tempest fugit…and things change.
Well, as unlikely as President Obama’s arc to the Presidency was, President Mandela’s rise to the ultimate seat of power in a country synonymous with Apartheid, and in which Nelson Mandela had spent 27 years in prison was even more unlikely. The government of South Africa imprisoned Mr. Mandela from August 5, 1962 until February 2, 1990. It is difficult to imagine that anyone could have predicted in 1989 that by 1999, Mr. Mandela, who was still in jail at the time (1989), would in ten years, voluntarily step down after having served a term as South Africa’s President. The government in Pretoria might have placed an individual who did such a thing on a fast track to a cellblock next to Mandela.
However, that is precisely what happened. So yesterday, America’s first black President, after a 19-hour flight, served as one of the celebrity eulogists for Ta Ta, South Africa’s first black President.
Mr. Mandela, who died at 95, reinvented himself, and was revered and beloved by many around the world. President Obama, in his speech, talked about Madiba’s tribal (Xhosa/Thembu) roots, and at times compared him to Gandhi, King, and Lincoln. President Obama was clear in expressing his personal admiration for the South African, and noted specifically that his first political action came after learning about Nelson Mandela. He protested Apartheid.
I noted earlier, the link above directs you to both a video and the transcript of President Obama’s remarks. Principally, I am taking this opportunity to declare my own esteem and appreciation for the life that Madiba lived and for his fidelity to the principles of doing the right thing, and to his resolute commitment to forgive…even those who imprisoned him.
To wit I say, “Farewell Madiba!”
I’m done; holla back!
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