Hail Mi Irieites,
The sad day has finally come where President Zuma had to make the announcement that South Africa’s biggest icon and one of the world’s most prolific activists towards Justice and Racial Equality, Nelson Mandela, has passed away. Now all nations across the entire planet are in mourning.
In this modern day era of ours Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whose life dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century, had ideals that will forever stand the test of time. Because as long as the world continues to have struggling and disenfranchised masses throughout, there will always be room for this energy of “survival and freedom” that this man perpetuated.
As most of us know, life was no easy road for our hero, who finally gave into death after a long battle from a lung infection. It was only five months ago that Steel Pulse was commemorating his efforts for reaching age 95. In terms of cricket, that’s what one would call an excellent innings.
Mandela was born on July 18th 1918, in a Xhosa village called Mvezo, in South Africa. As a child and also coming from a lineage of royalty, Nelson herded cattle for his family, a chore that was not uncommon in those days where humility built one’s character. By the mid 40s he gained a Batchelor of Arts degree and went on to pursue a career in politics and law. It was towards the end of that decade where South Africa’s colonial past took a drastic change (1948). In 1964 he was imprisoned for life by the South African ruling powers of the day for the crusade he embarked upon against “Apartheid”… an ideal that was running similar, if not parallel to the laws of segregation that was quite effective in the southern regions of the USA at that time.
A good portion of his life sentence was served on Robben Island. But it was the efforts of so many around the world spearheaded by his wife Winnie Mandela that brought Nelson’s “hidden away” incarceration to centre stage. With the sanctions from many countries and boycotts by many celebrities’ worldwide as well as general public rallies and outcry, Mandela was finally “Let Out” after spending 10,053 days (ten thousand and fifty-three), from Victor Verster Prison on February 11th 1990. [Incidentally, Mike Tyson was “Knocked Out” on that same day also… ]
Within three years of his release, the one time integral member of the ANC and “convicted terrorist” was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1993). By 1994 he became the First Black President of South Africa until 1999. His works, efforts and influences had him receiving more than 250 honours during his lifetime. This included a US Presidential Medal of Freedom (at least three current US Senators voted to keep him behind bars only four years before his parole, in1986). Mandela went on to serve his country in so many ways of which one in particular was the launching of his company called “46664”; a number in reference to the number that he wore on his prison uniform whereas ‘466’ was his actual number and ‘64’ stood for the year he started his jail term. This number is now a symbol of all the things that Mr. Mandela represented that encompassed the challenging fight against HIV/AIDS.
In 2005, Mandela retired from public service to make more of a presence with his family. Then there was the untimely death of one of his grand daughters that unfortunately continued to make him absent from the limelight at a moment when South Africa were the host to the epic event, better known as the World Cup, a few years ago. This was the first time the World Cup was ever featured on the continent.
Mandela will continue to be remembered in films plays and novels that depict his character in the most profound way. But let us not forget the endeavors of all the “soldiers” before and during his lifetime that made notable indentations and contributions with their lives to stop the menace known as racism. Stevie Biko, Desmond Tutu and Winnie Mandela; just to name a few.
Finally, we – Steel Pulse – are deeply saddened by all of this because for the first time after so many desperate attempts over the years, we are scheduled to be in South Africa for a few shows early 2014. There goes another individual of the highest stature that we have never had the pleasure to cross paths with.
To the family of Madiba, our sincere sympathies as we pay our respect and tribute to such a legend and “Father of the Nation.” (July 18th 1918 – Dec 5th 2013); a man that will make so many cry, yet was unable to cry himself due to having his tear ducts removed while imprisoned.
Hail Madiba – the true Sun of Africa.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela