The 1980s saw the release of The Specials "Free Nelson Mandela" song. I remember dancing along to this unaware of who the song was about at the time and the significance of why Nelson Mandela needed to be free. Enter John Minto and his like-minded peers and the Springbok Tour of '81. I couldn't quite grasp the gravity of the situation at the time, but as an adult, I fully appreciate the protest stance in Rugby Park in Hamilton. In 1990, Nelson Mandela was finally released from his life sentence imprisonment, thanks in part to the political pressure from around the world, especially after the world caught a glimpse of what apartheid meant in South Africa with media footage releasing images of police shooting innocent children. I wasn't much older than those children who were killed, starting high school at the same time and the news was quickly subsumed by other news - the Auckland-hosted Commonwealth Games.
By the end of my high school career in 1994, Madiba became the first democratically elected black president of South Africa (that blacks could participate in the voting process). The Rainbow Nation was further invigorated with the Springboks winning the highly coveted Rugby World Cup. Like many New Zealanders, I was crushed by the defeat (as were the All Blacks who played their hearts out that day) but once again, not until many years later, did I fully appreciate the impact of the win, as depicted in the Clint Eastwood-directed, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon-starring blockbuster film "Invincible".
Madiba had so many quotes as a freedom fighter, quotes to do with survival and self-discovery and such quotes would not have been made possible without being made to sacrifice so much - some sacrifices he made willingly and others he was forced to make. My favourite quote of Madiba comes from his view on perseverance:
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.
Leave the journey for others to walk, to conquer their own great hills and once they have, they too can see glorious vistas like you have. We know that we must fulfil great responsibilities that come with this freedom.
Rest well Madiba, for your long walk to freedom has now ended.
Rest well in eternal freedom Madiba.