If you walk through the garden and follow the path, Past the spot where the dogs love to nap, Past the corner and up a step, Past the grass that’s half sun, half shade…
If you step where the grass grows, escaping the cut And watch your step for the ‘bombs’ planted by dogs, And through the pool’s gate you go – If the vineyard guarding the padlock will allow…
If you stop and listen, hear the grass call, And past the wild garlic you stroll, You could stop by the old branch or you could go on, It is up to you. But you’re near the end, so push on…
Past the place where the fairies come out at night, See, they left an umbrella behind, Got caught in the Pinkhead Knotweed, The sweet scented snowballs that blush with ease…
Hold your breath for a second, then take a bow, Introduce yourself to the Rose, the aim of your stroll And eight years King at the End of my Garden – Past the brick path And the grass half shade and half sun, Over the dog bombs, Through the gate, Past the wild garlic, Along the old log, And the fairies’ umbrella, At the end of each day’s stroll.
5 Lessons I Learned From Madiba. There are many magical places in the world, spaces where nature and time seem to have a place of their own. Where the earth is so fertile that even the people living there seem to draw energy out of it and where time has a different pace and a deeper meaning. For what is a man’s life, but a stepping stone on which his children’s lives and his grandchildren’s lives are built upon.
Such a man, with a spirit as fertile as the rolling hills of his native land and a will power as inexhaustible as the wind’s, was Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the man upon which a whole new nation was built.
This tall man with a bright, friendly smile and colourful shirts walked with the crowds and stood near the kings, listened to by all. Always one to speak of forgiveness, of dialogue and freedom, he had been an inspiration for many. Here are a few of the lessons he had taught us.
1. Focus on your goals and keep on going.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela.
For the most of his life, Mandela fought to bring an end to apartheid. This was his life goal and although achieved through heart ache and much sacrifice, Mandela never gave up. Staying focused on your goal is a vital skill for a leader. By doing so, Mandela was able to keep the fight for freedom going and to keep a whole nation focused and fighting for the same goal.
2. If difficulties arise along the way, don’t avoid them, face them.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela.
Never lose hope on pursuing your dream. If something stands between you and your goal, be it health, hardship or discomfort, work out a strategy but keep your morals and work ethic intact. Accept the difficulty as it arises, all the time remembering that it will go away – or that you can make it go away. It is okay to sometimes feel sorry for yourself, but don’t procrastinate, step back and think of a solution.
3. Be kind and forgiving.
“If there are dreams of a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to that goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.” – Nelson Mandela
When harm is done by a group of people, the individuals in that particular group seldom take responsibility for their own actions. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, yet when he was released he spoke of forgiveness.
By forgiving, we open our hearts to compassion. Research has shown that compassion makes our heart rate slows down, thus helping us focus which in turn helps us better understand other’s actions and finding the answers and clarity we need.
4. Let go of your past, you CAN do better.
“Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela had many reasons to stay bitter, yet he stepped away from answering violence with conflict. He chose closure and to share his experiences as well as to learn from others. He opted for negotiation and reconciliation instead.
The past cannot be changed, it is over; it isn’t who or what you are anymore. Rather look at your past as something you had to overcome to become a better you. And then stop thinking about it. Focus on the present by trying to be a better you as this will only improve your future.
5. Education is for all, but it involves responsibility.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela was an active and curious learner throughout his life. From the informal, oral and tribal teachings of his childhood which most probably gave him his democratic leadership style, to the formal, law schooling later on and his political education, Mandela never ceased to learn. Be it from books or as from those around him, through dialogue or by listening, through self-reflection and by observing the times and the masses, he was a life-long learner.
Mandela never took education for granted, for education is a give and a get undertaking. It is being offered and it should be available to all, but one must also assume the obligations and the responsibilities that come with being educated; learn, ask questions, think, communicate, respect your school and your teachers.
In a world where terrorism takes over peace and hostilities replace kindness and tolerance; in a country where #FeesMustFall and, indirectly, so does education, a country governed by the local version of He Who Must Not Be Named, how do we keep our faith strong, for the sake of our children?
I keep on telling myself that the people make the country and not its politicians. Although the politicians may very well break it. After all, the people have the power to choose their own government. Although power is not the correct word here anymore, choice is. Just as I choose not to speak ill of my husband in front of my children – or anyone else for that matter and just as I do not speak ill of my own children in front of them – or anyone else, because I don’t want to break them.
I do not speak ill of my children’s teachers or of their school in front of them – because I don’t want to break their faith in their own education. Just as well, I choose not to speak ill of this country of ours. I think of Madiba, because he is my South African grandfather just as much as he is yours or his. I think of Madiba’s love for positive reinforcement and for this country.
Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom“: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”
Your 5 CAN DO list for keeping your FAITH in SOUTH AFRICA
CAN DO #1
Learn an African language. Learning another language helps breech cultural barriers, have access to and better understand other groups and people. And this is imperative in a country as rich as ours, with eleven official languages. Most schools nowadays offer a third language. Let’s celebrate this opportunity and learn with our children.
CAN DO #2
Engross yourself in other cultures. This is as easy as pie in South Africa and it will bring along respect and tolerance. Begin with food; try new recipes, local ones. Move into indigenous music, theater and home-grown, local authors. South Africa offers a rich cultural stew and it just waits to be tasted, I guarantee that you will enjoy it. We are all different, yet it is the sum of our traditions that makes us, South Africans, whole and unique.
CAN DO #3
Wavin’ the South African Flag. I know you sang it, I did too.
“Give me freedom, give me fire
Give me reason, take me higher”
Wavin’ Flag Official Anthem Version
Fly the South African flag now, it brings along hope, respect and pride.
CAN DO #4
Preserve the South African wildlife. It will make our children’s country beautiful and rich. You could volunteer to work in a wildlife nature reserve and live the African Conservation Experience. Or you can just do your bit at saving water and electricity; as monotonous as these may sound, they will help our country in the long term.
CAN DO #5
Buy South African products, buy local. By buying locally manufactured and grown produce, we stimulate job creation, decreasing unemployment in South Africa.
Did you know that “PRIDE” is an acronym?
P – Patriotism, Partnership and Productivity.
R – Reindustrialisation
I– Innovation and competitiveness.
D – Domestic Consumption
E – Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Development, Economic Development and Export Development
Have Faith, South Africa.
We owe it to our children. Just like we love them, clothe and feed them, we owe them faith in a better country. It will probably take another presidential mandate to get us out of the Junk Status Rating. But deep down in my gut I know that I owe it to my children to have faith and raise them as positive South Africans.