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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CULTURE/SOCIETY: Memories Of Mandela On His 90th Birthday

This is from me, not some reprinted piece. - OlderMusicGeek

Well, Mr Madiba, Nelson Mandela, turned 90 last Friday.

It was kind of interesting for me when I was in Africa. I lived next door to South Africa in a country that was over 99% black.

When I went there, Nelson Mandela had been in prison for over 20 years. Everybody assumed he would die in prison. It looked like South Africa would head to civil war sooner or later.

When I left, Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa. - When I mentioned to a friend that Mandela was in prison when I arrived and was now president as I was leaving, he quipped, "Well, I guess our work is done!"

I remember hearing stories about how they were talking about releasing him, but I paid no heed. Even when they said it was in a matters of days, not years.

Then I remember catching a glance of a magazine. It looked like Mandela. And De Klerk, the then white president of South Africa! My radio had died and I hadn't a chance to buy a new one at the time.

And plastered across the bottom of the magazine was "RELEASED"!

I talked to the girl selling magazines, but she didn't speak English. So using my rudimentary knowledge of her language, I managed somehow to ask if Mandela was free. I think I asked something along the lines of "Mandela went away from the prison?"

She assured me that he had gone away from the prison.

Fortunately, at the time of the elections, I did have a radio and lived next door to someone with a tv. I have 10 cassette tapes of news broadcasts from various networks - British Broadcasting Corporation/BBC, Voice of America/VOA, South Africa Broadcasting Corporation plus other local networks.

And my neighbor invited me to come over and watch as much of the election coverage as I wanted. I was pretty much over there most of those 2 days.

Unfortunately, I wasn't near a tv when Mandela was sworn in office. I kicked myself in the head for that. That would have been a great moment to have seen.

So anyway, those of my memories of Mr Madiba, spokesman for understanding and tolerance and our "secular saint". My friend's and my work is done, and now unfortunately, Mandela seems ready to rest. But considering how much he's done, he deserves it.

Mandela's birthday message to the world...

“There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to conquer poverty. Poverty has gripped our people. If you are poor, you are not likely to live long.”

A link to The Nelson Mandela Foundation

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