As I reflect on your passing, I feel grateful that you walked alongside us.
As a child my father introduced me to your story. He told me about his days at LSE university protesting against apartheid and boycotting oranges from South Africa. This inspired me to read your amazing auto-biography ‘Long walk to freedom’. I was captivated.
Then I was lucky to see you speak live at Trafalgar Square when I followed my fathers footsteps and also studied at LSE. There I met my best friend whose father is South African. She told me tales of him, a Jazz musician who during Apartheid would perform behind a curtain with the white musicians at the front in a concert for white people, and in front of the screen with the white musicians behind the curtain for a performance for black people.
Apartheid. The very idea was so ridiculous, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t that long ago…
Last Summer 2012 I finally had the chance to go to Johannesburg South Africa, to record my debut single ‘Unite’ with the incredible Soweto Gospel Choir.
The Soweto Gospel Choir were particularly close to you. They performed at the first of your 46664 concerts! And regularly performed for public and personal occasions for you- you had good taste in music!
It was a real honour for them to sing on my song, and to know that they were so close to you had a deeper meaning to me, as the song Unite is about us being one human race and the immense positive power we can form when we live for one another; you lived by that.
The choir took us to Soweto to see the house where you grew up and to eat some traditional food in one of their homes. We also visited the apartheid museum, which tells the story of apartheid and shows more on your story. It was truly an amazing experience I will never forget.
Then strangely enough, during one evening at a small bar in Melville in Johannesburg we got talking to a few local guys that the waitress had put us on a table with as there were no free tables. We chatted for hours and hours about music, race and South Africa and later we exchanged emails… and there I discovered that one of them was one of your grandsons! It felt like I was never too far away from you!
Mandela- as I go through my life I will continue to be inspired by your great capacity for forgiveness, your fight for justice and your compassion. Many people will call themselves Christians, but truly ‘loving your enemy’ is something many do not achieve to do earnestly, and that I think you did, along with a smile that lights up the world, and gives the darkest souls hope…
You light has allowed others to shine, and now it is time for you light up the heavens and rest in heavenly peace…
Love & Light,
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom