Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for
a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)
It is with a heavy heart and great respect that I acknowledge the death of one of the greatest men in South African and African American history. Called home at the age of 95, Mr. Mandela accomplished after much sacrifice (27 years of imprisonment), the end of apartheid in South Africa. A goal that seemed impossible; the country was ravaged with racism, hate and inequality.
Nelson Mandela. He was so many things to so many people. A father, son, husband, leader, politician, revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist, first black president of South Africa, the list is diverse. During his tenure as president he brought forth a new constitution for South Africa which was an essential part of the negotiations conducted to end apartheid. In addition, he was bestowed over 250 honors in his lifetime. Among them was the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, “. . . for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”
One of my greatest regrets was not seeing him when he visited New York City and spoke at Yankee Stadium in 1990. David Dinkins was mayor at the time and I was still in high school. I cannot remember why I did not attend (it was likely impossible to get in or near the stadium) but I do remember a classmate saying how moved and emotional she was upon seeing him. She could not stop her tears from falling. Imagine the power and energy that surrounded him. It must have been immeasurable.
Nelson Mandela has left behind an awesome legacy. Not just to his family, but to the people of South Africa and to the world. His death has forced us to re-evaluate our responsibility as people of color, as people period. To understand that we have an obligation to teach our youth about the kind of people they should endeavor to become. To be the human race, not races divided. To acknowledge that there is nothing that they cannot achieve. Strength, character and courage can be found within us all. Do not settle for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living! Amandla! Power! Recognize it!
Mari e laipe.
See you soon.