Friday, December 6, 2013

A the Long Walk to Freedom.

Nelson Mandela.
I ain't gonna play Sun City.

Most people have forgotten that phrase and the song. It was a "We are the World" against apartheid, the collection of segregation laws to maintain a white minority rule in South Africa held over from it's colonial past. Sun City at that time was a South African resort, open only to that small ruling group, and had hosted many of the top names in entertainment from around the world. In 1985, a group of entertainers, including Bruce Springsteen, U2, George Clinton, Run DMC and Bob Dylan joined in a protest song against apartheid, "I ain't gonna play Sun City." I can still remember the chorus. 

That was my introduction to South Africa. Schools didn't really cover anything but American history back then. They still don't, but back then we had to actually go to the library to learn anything. 

And from learning about apartheid I learned of Nelson Mandela.

I remember watching his release prison, and him walking with his wife. It was oddly compelling, although at that time I couldn't fully grasp the gravity of the situation.

When I learned his story, I realized what an amazing man he was. What I remember most was the lack of anger. After being put away from the world for almost three decades, he lacked a bitterness to which he was more than entitled. And then, he persuaded all the South Africans who had been trod upon under the heel of apartheid to put their bitterness aside as well. In less than a decade. Transformative doesn't quite do it justice. That Mandela, who at the time had spent most of life away from politics, was able to finesse a less than cataclysmic transition of his country into the modern age is nothing short of remarkable.

And understand he was a genuinely nice guy as well. And politics at the level sees so few nice guys. 

To paraphrase our President "We will not likely see the likes of [a] Nelson Mandela again."

This is but a pause in Nelson Mandela's story, for his story must include his legacy...and that will outlive us all.

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