So Nelson Mandela has finally died.
I mean no disrespect when I say finally, because it’s been going on for 4 months now. From being seriously ill in hospital to being seriously ill at home, you knew the inevitable would happen.
When I was living in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was someone who you knew about, but you hardly ever talked about it. According to the government, he was the source of all the country’s ills, why it was constantly in a so-called state of emergency, where you lived in what was basically a police state. I was young. I wasn’t supposed to know about these things.
He was the one who was in prison, either rightly or wrongly depending on your point of view.
There was a joke: “Free Nelson Mandela, with every two LPs bought”. I’m not sure whether that was a reaction to the “Free Nelson Mandela” song that was going round the rest of the worlds airwaves.
He was someone who would never, ever be allowed to be released.
So imagine my surprise when, about a year after I left South Africa, they released him. I remember at the time thinking why they couldn’t have done that whilst I was there. But that’s the way history is. It does things in it’s own time. I’ve never been to the “new South Africa”, nor do I think I ever will. So, I’m left with the internet and the odd snippet of news I get from friends and family who are still over there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been following what’s happening.
I wonder what the future will hold for the country now he’s gone. There’s some people saying it may descend into civil war, but I can’t see that happening.
But I know this. It’s not every day that we witness a historical figure’s passing. You hear of “famous” people dying, but this is somehow different. From lawyer to prisoner to president. That doesn’t happen often.
I think I’ll be reading my Long Road To Freedom next.