Rest Well

The burial that takes place today could be the most widely watched one in history when Nelson Mandela takes up his final resting place.

I remember the day he was let out of jail. It was a Sunday in February and I wore a big hat to church in celebration. My daughter who was 14 at the time, stood up front and sang a brief a cappella duet with her best friend Samantha.

So much has been said over the past week – so much WILL be said in years to come – but for me in these last days there days there is only again and again the sound of Ladyship Black Mambazo singing, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, whose lyrics use the five most widely spoken of South Africa’s eleven official.  (More about its origins here.)

I saw them sing this South African National Anthem as part of Paul Simon’s Graceland your in 1987. Here is footage of the them doing the song it almost as a prayer to Mother Africa itself, that time with the great Miriam Makeba who I saw sing even longer ago, in the summer of 1967 when I was a schoolgirl still.

 I understood in only a small way who she was and what truths she spoke for. I knew more by the time I attended the 1987 performance. I know – all of us know – even more about them today thanks to this great man. Rest well, Father of us all.