Nelson Mandela – in Memoriam

William Loader

A candle snuffed, discarded on an island of refuse, a spark of hope destroyed, danger averted, security restored and the continuity of white South Africa sustained.

But hope would not die, the people’s cry not be silenced, chaos not robbed of its creative potential.

Amid the confusion, the compromises and sometimes clarity of politicians, hope resurrected and Nelson marched the streets again to acclamation.

The world of jerkies and trekkers awoke to new possibilities with fear and apprehension, but also hope.

The great shrine of rugby was erected, the World Cup preliminaries played, and then the final, All Blacks v. South Africa.

I watched from afar as the contest stretched into extra time and a dropped goal clinched victory for the home side.

There onto the field clad in a Springboks jumper strode Nelson Mandela, a sight that brought me to tears.

Not my team’s loss but this sacred moment of boundary crossing, this entering of what for some was the bastion of apartheid overwhelmed my spirit.

Yes, green jumpers knelt in piety as they might always have done after such a win or so it seemed. I knew their religion.

As a boy I heard them preach in days where piety including theirs made no connection with justice and my gospel, too, had no good news for the poor.

Something much more sacred, more holy and whole, was happening here.

I still weep each time I hear the African national anthem (Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika). For there was lit a candle of hope that showed the way to reconciliation, community and justice.

His candle has now worn down its melted wax to merge with the earth and the destiny of us all, but his light of hope will never be extinguished, illuminating paths ahead, exposing the subversions of greed and violence, inviting us to embrace the unknown with hope.

I weep again.

Thank you, Nelson Mandela.