I never had the opportunity to meet you face to face or even shake your hand but we’ve been connected spiritually for over half of your 95 years. At the tender age of 17, in my heart I knew there was something very special about you; the handsome, 49 yr old South African freedom fighter, then political prisoner.
School wasn’t important the one day I cut class in L.A. to go to Will Rogers Park in Watts to attend a “Free Nelson Mandela” rally led by Stokely Carmichael. You had been incarcerated for 3 years at that time. Even though you were sentenced to life, I always held onto a glimmer of hope that one day you’d be freed but never in my wildest nightmare did it occur to me that your incarceration would span 27 years. My high school English Term Paper was on the “Injustices of the Apartheid System”. The very thing you fought against.
It took me 40 years to make the trek to your country in 2007 and since that time it’s been my work to take fellow Americans there to walk in your footsteps; from little 7 yr old Lina Reid to my travelers well into their 70’s. I’ve taken them from your early years in Soweto, to Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, to Robben Island in Cape Town, to Madiba House when you were under house arrest the last 18 months at Victor Verster Prison in Paarl,where you and Winnie took the long walk with upraised fists on the day the world shook, February 11, 1990 when you were released. Then you became the beloved 1st black President of a racially divided, post apartheid torn country——Unbelievable!! One of your quotes that I love, “In my country we go to prison first and then become President”.
Madiba, you fought a good fight, you finished the course, you kept the faith. You changed the lives and attitudes of not only South Africans but people worldwide and your contributions to mankind are too numerous to count.
Get your crown and rest on Gentle Giant.
*****Readers, this concludes my blogging for this trip. Hopefully you enjoyed the ride. Late 2015 there is a plan in the works for a land package back to Southeast Asia —- I love Vietnam, Bangkok, probably will add Tokyo. The captain bypassed Hanoi due to weather and we docked in Halong Bay. It’s 3 hrs from Hanoi. Nothing here excited me. They could have left me in Danang but only if Fitzroy was here :)*******