Nelson Mandela life story: Thabo Mbeki's praise poem
'You have stood at the brink...'
Friday 06 December 2013
You have walked along the road of the heroes and the heroines.
You have borne the pain of those who have known fear and learnt to conquer it.
You have marched in front when comfort was in the midst of the ranks
You have laughed to contend against a river of tears.
You have cried to broadcast a story of joy...
The accident of your birth should have condemned you to a village.
Circumstances you did not choose should have confined you to a district.
Your sight, your heart and your mind could have reached no further than the horizon of the natural eye.
But you have been where you should not have been.
You have faced death and said - do your worst!
You have inhabited the dark, dark dungeons of freedom denied, itself a denial to live in a society where freedom was denied.
You have looked at the faces of some of those who were your comrades, who turned their eyes away from you because somewhere in their mortal being there lingered the remnants of a sense of shame, always and for ever whispering softly - no to treachery! A thing in the shadows, present at every dawn, repeating, repeating, repeating - I am Conscience, to whom you have denied a home.
You have not asked - who indeed are these for whose lives I was prepared to die!
You have asked - who am I, that I too did not falter, so that I too could turn my own eyes away from myself and another, who was a comrade.
You have stood at the brink, when you had to appeal to the gods about whether to win a dishonourable peace or to lose the lives of your people, and decided that none among these would exchange their lives for an existence without honour.
You have been where nobody should be asked to be.
You have carried burdens heavier than those who felt it their responsibility and right to proclaim you an enemy of the state.
You have to convince your enemies to believe a story difficult to believe, because it was true, that your burnished spear glittered in the rays of the sun, not to speak of hatred and death from them, but because you prayed that its blinding brilliance would tell them, whose ears would not hear, that you loved them as your own kith and kin.
You have had to bear the mantle of sainthood when all you sought was pride in the knowledge that you were a good foot soldier for justice and freedom...
From "A Farewell to Madiba", a praise poem by Thabo Mbeki (president of South Africa from 1999 to 2008), delivered by him to the National Assembly, Cape Town, on 26 March 1999
In The Independent on Saturday:
A special supplement celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...
£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...