Today South Africa pays it final respects to its most inspiring world leader. Last week the world alraedy had the opportunity to wave Nelson Mandela farewell. Not that I had time to watch the ceremony because after all life goes on. I had to settle for the news reports and some pictures to catch a glimpse of the whole affaire. Appearantly did almost every single person of importance wanted to be present. Yes, I did end up smiling at the selfie-story of Obama and the sign language intrepetor who seemed to have a bad day at the office at that exact moment.
Some newspaper articles described the whole affaire as being rather festive like and not sad at all. Awkward mourning moments I dare to call it. But then we all mourn in different ways and having to pay last respects to a person like Nelson Mandela is not an everyday situation.
Am I in mourning? Is my life different since Mandela his last breath? Hmm... not really? But there was one question that did cross my mind this week while I got to watch a programme about the life of this inspirational person: in what way have I already tried to cary out his message? Well, believe it or not I do remember quite well the time that Nelson was spending time on Robbeneiland and that Margaret Thatcher tried to justify the South African policies in some of her interviews.
And you know why? Well, because of an piece of fruit.... a round piece of fruit... a very nice looking apple.... a shiny green apple... I even dare to call it the most perfect looking apple. I will never forget the times my mum would take me along grocery shopping and that I came across this unique edible sales item. It stood out amongst all the other pieces of fruit. It was like this piece fruit had magnetic powers and that I suddenly forgot all about the bananas, the kiwis, figs and pineapples. There it was... that one round object that I wanted to plant my teeth in. My mouth filled up with water when my eye sight picked it up. There was only one right word to describe this apple:IRRESISTIBLE!
I forget not only other members of the world of fruits but even my urge for crisps or candy suddenly had went up in smoke. I stood there in the middle of the fuit and vegetable department of the grocery store and all I wanted was to get my hands on that one shiny object. But unfortunately that was a mission impossible because I was forbidden to have that one piece of fruit. Why?
Fruit connaisseurs might already have figured it out. I was in extasy because of a Granny Smith apple. My hands were itching and I had to keep reminding myself constantly that this apple was out of reach. 'So you want apples?', my mum would then ask me and her voice would make me land back on earth. 'Yes!', and I pointed it at that particular apple. Her face then told me that once more I would have to settle for the less shiny and perfect shaped kind. 'NO!!! Not that one! You know that I am not buying that one.'
Of course I knew but then I wondered how long it would take till my mother would give in. Well, I found out that my mother was a very tough woman to deal with when it came down to apples. I can not even remember that she ever bought me one of those apples.... Now you might wonder how Nelson Mandela, South Africa and a Granny Smith apple are linked? Well, the issue my mother had with that apple was the blue/white sticker that was attached to it. On that sticker there were four letters 'CAPE'.
Yes, I knew why we were not suppose to be bying that one apple. It was from South Africa and there was somthing 'wrong' about that country. Not that I fully understood what was going on down there. After all I guess that I was too young to understand all the facts about 'apartheid'. After all I did seem to have the impression that my father loved that nation. He even had some books in his office that dealt with 'Afrikaans'. This all made a bit more confusing. So in a way that apple stood for everything that was going wrong in that one nation and my mother was going to make sure that her loved one were going to resist the calling of the Cape Granny Smith as long as nothing was going to change down there.
That I had to wait a very long time to fully enjoy one of these apples everybody could have predicted. After all Nelson Mandela was charged with a life sentence. The world famous inmate with the number 46664 wasn't going to come out by the next harvest of Granny Smiths. Why? Well,my parents tried to explain to my sibblings and me what was going on down there in Africa. But let us be honest that is very hard to get your head around. But the apple boycot in our house did stand the test of time....
When Mandela regained his freedom I did plant my teeth into one of these Granny Smith.
The thing was that I less and less longed for it and that even today I am not that much tempted to buy them. Cape fruit had been the enemy for such a long time and now that my mum wanted to buy them again I did not nag for them anymore!
Mission accomplished? Did resisting Cape Granny Smith apples help to liberate Mandela or at least help to point out to South Africa that something had to change? Well, my mum seemed to think so. My dad even started to buy South African 'vonkelwijn' instead of the French equivalent.
So South Africa did enter my life by means of an apple.... What happened after the apple boycott I found out in history lessons and on the news and even by first hand letters from a friend who was studying in South Africa in 1993-1994. I can tell you that these postcards and letters are for me the proof that the transition time in South Africa was a very exciting time but also a time filled up anxiety.
Now, don't worry I am not going to start of now by repeating what already so many have said over and over again about Mandela. There is no need for it because his heritage is beyond any words. It will take a bit more then boycotting an apple to keep it alive and kicking. Because let us face it that it won't be easy to follow in the footsteps of such an inspiring human being.
So when I last Friday got the opportunity to sign a commeration book I did take the time to sit down and think about something fitting to write down. But what if the person who you write this message for already created such inspiring words that can stand the test of time? Well, then I decided to write one quote that I take to heart and strongly believe in.
Mandela is no more amongst the living but he for sure has left enough food for thought to keep me busy for the rest of my life. After all the temptation of the green and shiny apple is so much eassier to resist then the inspiring words of Madiba. Me being a teacher qualified me for a fight of life time according to him. Still, it is the future that will tell if we can keep alive what he stood for. It will be very hard to ’Xhosa Lizali’sidinga lakho'. But then Nelson Mandela once said by his retirement from public life with his hallmark smile:'Don't call me! I will call you!'
The quote I choose to write in the commeration book:
'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.' Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
PS: I wish to thank my mother with this entry because it was thanks to her that I for the very first time in my life realised that small actions can make a difference.