In the week that is in it, with the world looking at the life of Nelson Mandela and the glitterati climbing over themselves attending all the funeral events surrounding it, the mind drifts back into thoughtfulness with Van Morrisson’s song refusing to leave my head.
Mandela’s life was truly extraordinary from his birth to education, career, imprisonment and onto his election and later life. I am no expert on him, I don’t know the man at all, I have only looked at him from the distance, only ever heard of him through the media but I feel that I have been privileged to have shared the same world as he has over the past years.
His strength of character in standing up for what he believed in his, his willingness to forgive even his strongest adversaries, the clarity of his views and thoughts have been an inspiration.
I have looked at his images, listened to his voice, seen those around him that have shared his life. Their grief and loss should not be forgotten, it is a personal loss known only to them. My loss is a public one.
My mind keeps going back to Winnie Mandela, a woman who was his voice when he was in prison, who kept the struggle for freedom on the world stage, who made his life her life’s work. Now a sometimes peripheral figure in his story and in the story of South Africa it is on days like this that her image and name returns, at least to me.
So the great and the good of the world can attend these services, but in truth I will be there as well, not in person but in my mind, he will be mourned by his people, my thoughts will be with them and for them.
Mandela was a movement and a spirit , this world is a lesser place without him but we can at least say we shared the same world as he did for a time, no matter how brief.
Days like this, indeed!