I really don’t know where to start with this post. I garbled a bit about Mandela in June when everyone was all “he’s going to die soon! We had better write something really intense beforehand so that we don’t look like we’re following the crowd when he has died!”
And now he has and I don’t think another blog post is going to add much to the cacophony of essays that’s flooded the press since last Thursday. There have been articles on his dress sense, South Africa’s current issues, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s reaction to the news, the schizophrenic sign language guy, columns about the time so-and-so’s cousin’s friend’s neighbour’s cousin met Mandela… I don’t know if I have anything to add (which after last week might be a good thing, because although I might be able to handle a lawsuit from a tabloid I don’t think I could cope if South Africa took one out against me for misconstruing myself. It’s been a long week).
Maybe this post should be written in a year’s time, or in a decade. There’s been quite a lot of ‘legend’-like words floating around newsrooms – but my feeling kind of is that up until a week ago, Mandela was a (very interesting, incredibly important and extremely awe-inspiring) person and it is only with time that we’ll really know the extent of his legacy? Because Africa is still a huge mess in terms of inequality – not that the rest of the world’s got that much of a lead, now that I think about it. Maybe the best tribute is to follow his example and try to be better people. I mean, even imagining living under apartheid is difficult for me because as a white girl from the UK, I’m way up there in the ‘society likes you’ list. I saw a blog post once where the writer said to imagine you were playing a computer game called Life and you get to start with different advantages or disadvantages, like selecting the ‘male’ option or the ‘well-educated’ one, and your selections impact the difficulty of each level. I don’t even remember what it was called but the metaphor’s stuck with me and I’m trying to imagine selecting ‘black under apartheid’ and it’s hard. So maybe we should all do that and quit complaining that not enough coverage was given to the weather.
It’s weather, people. It’s always there. We can see it if we look out the window. Thankfully apartheid is not. Except equality is also not.
There’s a poem in that somewhere, but I really think I ought to go to bed while I can still type.