Hey, it took me over an hour to remember how to post a new blog. I am not the IT fundi that some of you think I am. However I want to share with you what has been happenning this past week.
Ever since Mandela went home to his eternal rest (the end of the long journey to freedom---free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last).
Mthatha is always crowded because it is an overgrown hick town, but this past week, Holy Moses. I wanted to go over to visit Fr. Guy and his boys on Saturday evening (I usually share a meal with them once or twice a week to keep in touch with his boys as well as to give him my support) but when I left where I stay (about 2 km from the main road to Mthatha), when I arrived at the main road to Mthatha--in one direction you go to the airport, in the other direction you go to Mthatha. It is 9 km. just over 5 1/2 miles and the queue started right there as I tried to get out on the highway. I did it but when I saw the line of cars, I turned around and went back home to my place next to the orthopedic hospital at Bedford and phoned Fr. Guy to tell him it was impossible. So I ate my leftovers.
But it has been a psychologically draining week, much like I remember when JFK was assassinated. The TV went all day long for 24hrs. with stories about Mandela and his history, and tributes to him, etc. etc. etc. I am like a sponge. Sometimes I had to smile, as I said before, and other times I was in tears. He was just special special special.
When interviewing a few Afrikanners to get their opinion about Mandela, most of them confessed that they had been brainwashed by their society and thought of Mandela as a killer, a terrorist, and all blacks were things (not necessarily people) to be frightened of. One lady told the story of hearing a knock on her door and when she opened it, there was a little about 10 yrs..old black kid asking for a piece of bread. He was in tattered clothes and looked skinny enough to believe that he was hungry, but she was so frightened of him because of the pre-programming that went on about how terrible all aftricans were, she slamned the door in his face. Now when she thinks back, after discovering a Mandela that is the total opposite of everything that she ever heard, she cries because of what she did and is ashamed. I believe it was this same lady who said that her son was a policeman and was assigned to guard Mandela now that he was president. Unfortunately, her son got in an accident and was in the hospital. Mandela visited the hospital to cheer him up and brought him some chocolates. She was devastated at how she used to think of him. And so it was with so many others.
The legacy that he has left is one of forgiveness, reconciliation, building understanding and unity. When he was president, he paid a visit to Oranje, a part of south Africa that is inhabited by Boers, Afrikaaners, who, at least at that time, did not want a black president and didn't want to be a part of south Africa. They wanted to have an independent white state. He went there to have a cup of tea with Mrs. Betsy Verwoerd, the wife of the man who forced apartheid upon south africa. That is like Daniel entering the lion's den.
Then he went to have lunch with a man named Percy something who was the prosecutor in his case back in 1962 and had asked for the death penalty. He invited his warder from his prison days to his inauguration as a VIP. But the frosting on the cake was when he donned the Springbok jersey ( The Springboks are the rugby team--called at that time, the National Party at play) with the number 6, the captain's number and presented the trophy (having just won the world cup in rugby, South Africa being able to play in international rugby because of Mandela--previously they had been banned from world competition because of their apartheid policies) to Francois Pienaar and thanked him for leading " our " team to victory. Pienaar never forgot what an honor that was coming from Mandela and he said that he was unable to sing the national anthem because he was afraid that he would cry since he was so touched and overwhelmed by this gesture of forgiveness and reconciliation. It would be the same as though a Jew would put on a Swastika, such a hated symbol by the Jews.
I have heard more planes this last week, even jets, big and small (we just finished a runway that is able to hanldle big jets, most likely expecting that Mandela would soon be returning to his maker, just in time) than I have heard in the 20 yrs. before.
I had Mass this morning with a small community, mostly kids, and we combined our preparation for Christmas with joining with the others in laying to rest our beloved Tata. We will see how much we will be able to imbibe his spirit. One commentator said that he was who he was not in spite of the 27 yrs. in prison but because of those years when he had the time to reflect and grow into who he became while there. When he was asked, some time ago, by an interviewer, whether he ever hated his jailers and oppressors. He admitted that he did feel that way at one time but later realized that as long as he hated, he was not free and he wanted to be free. So when he walked out of that prison, he hated no one because he wanted to be truly free. Does that say something to us in our world of today when there is so much hatred and violence.
Hey, this is enough for one day, in fact more than I intended. I love you all and have renewed my resolution to work for the kind of society that Mandela lived and died for. Peace to you all.