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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For Real Toads: Mandela Day

July 18 is Mandela Day, and this year it celebrates the 94th birthday of Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela. Kerry has told the online writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads that Mr. Mandela issued a challenge for everyone in the world to spend 67 minutes serving others. Kerry thought we might find poetic inspiration in this day and in Mr. Mandela's challenge.
I have always admired Nelson Mandela, and was amazed at his endurance in spending decades in prison on Robben Island, a low-lying island off the coast of South Africa. Not only did he survive, but he came out to win the election for leader of his country's first democratic government.
He has always been remarkably determined, and unbelievably brave, being one of the few who has dared to speak out against the USA for its "unspeakable atrocities" against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
It occurs to me today that I have heard and read much about the treatment of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans by our two governments who feared a Japanese attack from the Pacific and responded by sending Canadian and American citizens of Japanese descent inland, and also by confiscating their property on the west coast.
Much has been said and much has been written about reparations to these people, many of them my friends, and I agreed something should be done. But how many North Americans wrote about reparations to Japanese citizens in Japan whose relatives and property were annihilated by the bombs? And how many people have confronted the US about the atrocity of such bombs in the first place? An interesting point, and one addressed by the great Nelson Mandela.


  

to work for good
for all the world
to work for good
and then be hurled
into prison for it

to work for peace
for all mankind
to work for peace
and then to find
some don’t really want it
  
a man of peace
a man of good
a man of peace
who then withstood
years of prison for it
  
a man who dared
to speak the truth
because he cared
more for the truth
than the penalties for it

Wikipedia photos
Top, and centre,
Robben Island prison.
Bottom, Nelson Mandela's cell.

13 comments:

Mary said...

A wonderful tribute to Nelson Mandela! So sad that he was jailed so long for his beliefs and deeds.

Susan said...

Your intro is quite a powerful accompaniment to this wonderful, clear and almost a song tribute to a great man who may still have surprises for us!

Peggy said...

Oh yes the eternal cost of conflict. I keep hoping mankind can someday evolve beyond war. The specific reasons change but still war and conflict remain. Very sad.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A great write, and awesome topic, kiddo. So many injustices that just arent addressed, hey? Thanks for bringing these to the fore.......I love that idea of spending 67 minutes serving mankind.

Kay said...

He is truly an amazing man, Kay. Thank you for this post. I know quite a few people who were affected by the Internment. Such a sad, terrible time in history.

Mara said...

The first time all South Africans were allowed to vote is an image that still stands out in my head: all those people waiting for miles and miles until they were finally able to make their voice heard. And basically thanks to Nelson Mandela!

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have always keenly felt the years Mandela spent in prison because he was sentenced just 2 days before I was born; I was 27 before he was released. His stance on peaceful process saved many lives in my country, because we were poised on the brink of civil war, but for his hand of friendship, I might not have survived.

It is wonderful to read how he has touched the heart and mind of people all across the world - this simple African man from a rural village.

Heaven said...

He is a brave and amazing person. I too remembered when he was released from prison and then went on to become President. Such an inspiration, up to now ~

Gemma Wiseman said...

A man who cared more for truth than the penalties for it! Love this idea! Lovely introduction and then a comparative scenario! Fascinating post!

Mary Mansfield said...

A beautifully honest tribute to Mandela...love it!

Herotomost said...

yes...and to still be a human being filled with trust and compassion. Great tribute Kay. Great to see you around I again....I missed you!

Ella said...

What a beautiful post and poem about such a wonderful man! Wow, well done~

sharplittlepencil.com said...

First time here, thanks to Real Toads. Your tribute to Mandela was heartfelt and solid. It's so true: We were fed the line in high school that "dropping the bomb on Hiroshima" (civilians, including kids) "saved 100,000 American troops." It will stand forever as a stain on this country, along with incarcerating Japanese-Americans, waterboarding, and other atrocities. I'm all about speaking truth to power, and Mandela is a hero of so many... Bless you for this! Amy
You might appreciate this one in light of your post:
http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/07/11/ground-zero-fukushima/