Remembering Nelson Mandela

The “Remembering Nelson Mandela” event at International House on January 24th hosted by our fellow Rotarian Natalie Minya was a huge success. I have never seen that many people packed into the big room at I-House. Brooke and I joined- in, as did Keith Wattenpaugh and family. We enjoyed African music and song, talks on Mandela and his Rainbow Nation (aka South Africa), and a ceremony honoring the elders among us, and a delicious African- themed Potluck. Keith honored me as an elder, which was nice, but just for the record I’d like to be considered a rather youngish-elder at this stage of my life.

After the kids went home or into the other room to watch children’s movie, about a third of the folks stayed to watch the movie SARAFINA with excellent South African cast and also featuring Whoopi Goldenberg in a supporting role. The movie was necessarily quite violent at times portraying the dark days of Apartheid. But the film begins and ends with an up-lifting message from the central character, Sarafina, a young, black South African women coming of age at a horrendous time in her country. Sarafina’s epiphany is “I will not let you make me hate you. I will not allow a desire for revenge to consume me.” Or in Nelson Mandela’s words “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

I have come to understand that Mandela’s power and effectiveness in transitioning a nation came in the end not from his ability to fight, but in his ability to forgive. The ability not to forget but to forgive unspeakable transgressions and to encourage a nation of one’s countrymen do the same is what in my eyes puts Mandela on a par with the great leaders of our country such as Washington and Lincoln. I’m glad I attended this event to honor this great man, and by his own admission not a saint, Nelson Mandela.

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About colorfulclay

Hydrologist Clay Brandow has water on his mind most of the time, but now is seeking other diversions. Dear reader I'd love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment or two. It's easy.
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One Response to Remembering Nelson Mandela

  1. Anne Nicksic says:

    I have increasing respect for my parents and the changes they experienced and adjusted to during their lifetime. Now a quasi-elder myself, I can remember the civil rights movement, the bringing down of the Berlin wall, and the ending of Apartheid in South Africa. Among all the dismaying and nerve-wracking global news that arrives daily, the messages of respect and hope also exist even if they are not announced as loudly. Thanks for the reminder!

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