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Tebogo101
What shall we do now Mandela?
16H50 THURSDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2013
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We are bereaved, not just South Africa, but the whole world.  The passing of Nelson Mandela has brought the world to a standstill, you need only switch through television channels, both major and minor, local and international, community and commercial to see how his passing (and his life has gripped the world’s attention).  We have suffered a great loss and we are bereft of all understanding.

It is not as if South Africans never imagined that he might pass, since his much publicised illnesses and long stays in hospital (beginning in January of 2013) we have all held a collective breath, knowing the end was soon to come yet unyielding in our faith that his spirit may stay in this realm a while longer.  More than anything I suspect we wanted that spirit around to rustle through the hearts and minds of our politicians as though infusing in them a will to practice empathy, consciousness and mindfulness.  We don’t know what comes next and we fear that too many of the ill-intentioned in our government will overwhelm the few forces of the well-intentioned and stomp them out.

 The scales of good and evil are out of balance brothers and sisters, and our fear is that we have lost a giant (as in this post by Lerammoux) in the force of good and we are far too tipped over on the side of uncertainty.

Still, we must appreciate the African grieving process: we open our home to all who wish to pay their respects.  There is a never ending ebb and flow of people who come to tell their story of the departed.  Each of these mourners (for even if you were touched by a person only briefly, there is a flicker of spiritual connection granting you the justification to mourn their loss) take their turn in narrating their experience with the departed and in their recitation the family’s wounds are picked at repeatedly and are forced to bleed – yet some stories come as a kind of balming agent.  Ka SeTswana, this process allows the family go itlhoboga – it affords them the opportunity to surrender to the loss, the feelings thereof and accept that their loved one has passed over to the next realm.

 Needless to say the amount of callers to the radio stations, the blog posts, photographs, artworks, videos,  tweets and status updates that have been shared around the world speak of everyone’s need to tell their personal stories: to release the hurt and begin the healing.

My own relationship with crowds not withstanding close family and friends have ventured out to the memorial services and to view the body as it lies in state in order to gain closure.  When we grieve we should allow everyone else that right to grieve as they must and express it as they feel.  As in this post by Thabang, the people wanted to sing! The people have been longing for the kind of memorial or funeral service that recalls the epoch of macommerade of old: like the rallies in the 80’s where the song and dance shattered the township atmosphere like lightning; mostly ending up with dusty dispersion by police in their hippos (casper vans) and a long hung cloud of teargas.  The people have wished to cry and some have felt as though they have not cried enough, not dug at the hurt enough! It may long come; but come it will.

In the midst of grief there is always matlaila – some people who act the damn fool (not direct translation) and we have seen the foolishness surrounding this process: the faux sign language interpreter at the official memorial service, and the government wanting to silence the people from booing their president in front of the world’s eyes (I wonder when else would be more appropriate a moment or space to boo a president?).  Elders have called for decorum and protocol – what in the world does grief know of protocol and decorum?!  The people are bereaved! Let them grieve.

I myself have been following the events of this occasion with great interest: not only as a bystander but as a witness to this moment.  It is one of the most significant moments of our time.  What is telling is how we choose to be after this moment has passed: as a nation, and as a people.

Worry not about the mythical status and sainthood bestowed upon Nelson Mandela by his people (as reflected in this post by Vus).  Worry for how you will conduct your life after being so touched by such a spirit in your lifetime.  Worry for how you might explain to your great grandchildren how it is that the world they have inherited was unaffected by a man worthy of such praise and exaltation.   

 

I’m hopeful that this festive period may bring some time for reflection, so that we begin this coming New Year with a newness of spirit.

Happy Holidays!

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Photograher ntsane  You can peep more of my writing on Like Water or find me on @Tebogo101

 

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