What to write? How to begin to dare essay the embrace of a legend in his own time, and our times? How to honour this immortal, now timeless figure, this man called Mandela, and revered as Madiba, his clan name? How?
Nelson Mandela was more than a role model, or the embodiment of majesty and grace which comes along so rarely to transfix. I feel as though I have lost something indefinable, something spiritual – a part of me almost.
Here was a man who struggled, then towered past the sweeping choking rage of his time, the insurmountable despair of an unspeakable past, and the black suffocation of a crippling present. Somehow he transcended it all, transcended all. How I don’t know. It was ‒ is ‒ inhuman.
His life was one overflowing with unequal measures of patience when circumstances demanded, of humility so as to live another day, and of the strength to discover his true self, then to start all over again. Amidst the jarring cacophony for the recriminatory, he counselled otherwise, and overcame. Perhaps, there is a significant lesson for us over here in Guyana. When the world pontificates about consensus building, he had the vast imagination, the raw courage, and the unfettered will to live it. Yes, another lesson for us Guyanese, as we grope and grapple for this elusive dream of consensus, while surrounded by our own bitter history, self-inflicted weaknesses, and cultivated failures.
Oh, the writing and the talking will be endless about Nelson Mandela. The writing and talking of his sublime greatness, and his assured place in that distant galaxy inhabited by those peerless men elevated to the level of gods. But the greatest tribute that can be paid to this son of the universe would be to follow him; to walk in his shoes; to feel first the pain; and last to live the difference. It took him to the mountain top, didn’t it? It is one more lesson for those willing to travel the hardest of hard roads.