Be so busy loving your life, you have no time for hate, regret or fear

An Ode To Nelson Mandela…

In Daily Musings, Friday Chronicles on December 13, 2013 at 10:56 am

 

mbali-vilakazi, Nelson Mandela #mbali-vilakazi #NelsonMandela #mandela, mandela

I’ve been so busy of late, that I have not had a chance to blog about the passing of Nelson Mandela, who was a true hero of our modern times, where there are so few.  While listening to NPR this morning, the poet Mbali Vilakazi. read her beautiful poem  “The Black Pimpernel” in honor of this wonderful man.  

In her own words Ms. Vilakazi says “Where there are no easy answers, there will be no easy poems, and there is so much that has been said and written about him, and there’s so much that I feel has also been reduced in relation to him. So for me, I wanted to begin where I stand. I wanted to look back, but I wanted to also begin with a firm footing in the present, looking toward the future, because as that generation that comes after all of what has happened that has enabled even me to be here and have a voice, it is now up to us.”

Here is the poem she read this morning, which caused me to stop what I was doing and listen intently. To me her words truly captured the man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The Black Pimpernel

This hour upon the horizon is its own song; a dirge

But this is not the hour of yesterday
This is not the time for tears
Nor celebration

We have our work to do.

And we have been shown:

Wind of life blown without roots
Into exile and iron fire grieving
Blood and shackled love
And those other things —
Those that remain undone

We have always been reaching

Before the smoke machines
And statues of bronze, and invention
Before martyr and metaphor
Before the truth, and the lies

Before ambiguous
And surface scraped clean
Of complexity

There were regular swoops on your Orlando home then.

There were the workman’s blue overalls and the Mazzawati tea glasses
And there was you —
The Black Pimpernel.
The fearsome shadow of purposeful stride
An AK-47 grip on necessity
A chauffeur’s hat and your pocketful of ‘tickeys’

You have always had your way.

Black fist of words raised beyond the precipice
You bore the burden:
Hammer, rock and
The lime quarry in your eyes

They say it affected your sight.

‘I am not a saint’ you said.

A man who seeks the hands of children in the crowd.

The terrorist and the statesman
The paradox comes home here
Where we remain.
Where a daughter will remember how she could not touch you
Behind the glass
Behind your smile

Mortal, man, one amongst many
You led yourself and lead us to the same.

Of what you could not give
We will remember that you did not take.

We will make our own meaning.

This hope, it belongs
It is ours

We claim it.

This is the hour of tomorrow.

And if we have stood on the shoulders of giants,
We are giants still
And giants, we will come again

Because we are all Nelson Mandela

And because the struggle continues.

“The Black Pimpernel” by Mbali Vilakazi. Copyright 2013 by Mbali Vilakazi.

Listen to the full interview here

 

Photo of Mbali Vilakazi courtesy of NPR

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