Well I thought I was going to get on here tonite and post about another 2013 Top Capture entry. This news immediately took precedent over there. You want to talk about death hoaxes? They tried to kill this brotha off a couple of months ago when he was hospitalized in ICU. He wasn't having that. Being true to the warrior that he is, he went out on his own terms. And now we have lost one of the most courageous and genuinely honorable human beings that the world has ever known.
Unfortunately, I didn't grow up knowing an awful lot about Nelson Mandela and the greatness he did for his country prior to his being unjustly incarcerated. That was one of the drawbacks to going to school at Norwalk pre-Afrocentric movement that took place in the late 80s and the early 90s. It's not like we were getting a lot of Black history. And you know if we weren't getting the U.S. Black history, we certainly weren't getting the international Black history either. Such is life before the internet.
So yeah...I didn't know at the time that The African National Congress heeded calls for stronger action against the apartheid regime and it was Mandela who helped launch an armed wing to attack government symbols, including post offices and offices. Of course I knew about apartheid and what it was since I kept up with current events; just didn't know how much of a central figure he was in opposition to it.
I didn't know that he secretly received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia in 1962 then was arrested and charged with illegal exit of the country and incitement to strike when he returned a year later. Something that would eventually lead a trial where he would represent himself leading to the lifelong sentence for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
It was interesting that once the afrocentric era did come about, Mandela's name and actions became even more prevalent. The "Free Mandela" movement could be seen everywhere. It was almost as if he vicariously added fuel to a fire that was LONG overdue to be ignited. But at the same time, it helped get him more known in the States as well as we felt a kindred connection with his struggle.
I have two fond memories of him (I say as if I met him personally. I wish): one was the scene of him finally being released from that South African prison. Seeing him walking through the streets triumphantly knowing that his faith had not been broken. I will always remember that timeframe because 1990 was the same year I would cross the burning sands not long after that.
Now you would probably think that the other memory was of him becoming the first Black President of South Africa, right? Oddly enough, it wasn't. Probably because I saw that being a foregone conclusion. It was obvious with the overwhelming majority in his favor upon his release that his election to that position was going to happen much sooner rather than later. No, my other memory is his significant cameo in Spike Lee's "Malcolm X". Never saw that coming. However, his role in it made perfect sense. He was essentially the South African equivalent of one of my favorite historical figures of all time. I could see in him where El Hajj Malik El Shabazz would have evolved had he lived out his days. And I knew...I am Nelson Mandela.
Rest in peace, Mr. Mandela.