Tag Archives: South Africa

A tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Island, Prison, Quarry

On an island they would hide him
Separate him from the cause
He would not let them hide him
And his spirit it still soared
From the island his spirit soared.

In prison cell they would hold him
From his spirit choke all life
He would not let them hold him
And his spirit remained true
In prison cell he still stayed true

In the quarry they would break him
Crush his spirit like a stone
He would not let them break him
And his spirit remained strong
In the quarry he stayed strong

From the island, prison, quarry
One fine day he freely strode
And in his spirit we could see
That he was already free
Lord he always had been free.

His soaring spirit true and strong
Keeps him walking to this day
Won’t you rise and come along
And to freedom we will walk
It is to freedom that we walk

Originally written in 1990, this piece is no less sincere for its inadequacy to do justice to the man.



Filed under Current Events, Poem

Writing down words

An interchange from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remains with me. Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his father Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) seek the Holy Grail. Nazis have also joined the quest. Henry Jones has long sought the Grail, finding a map and compiling a diary. To keep them safe, Henry sent the materials to his son and colleague Marcus Brody. Learning that the Nazis have kidnapped Henry Jones, Brody set off with the map.  Indiana went to rescue his father. After a series of adventures, father and son escape. The following conversation occurs:

Professor Henry Jones: Stop, wait, stop! Stop! You’re going the wrong way. We have to get to Berlin.
Indiana Jones: Brody’s this way.
Professor Henry Jones: My diary’s in Berlin.
Indiana Jones: We don’t need the diary, dad; Marcus has the map.
Professor Henry Jones: There is more in the diary than just the map.
Indiana Jones: All right, Dad. Tell me.
Professor Henry Jones: Well, he who finds the Grail must face the final challenge.
Indiana Jones: What final challenge?
Professor Henry Jones: Three devices of lethal cunning.
Indiana Jones: Booby traps?
Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yes. But I found the clues that will safely take us through them in the Chronicles of St. Anselm.
Indiana Jones: Well, what are they? As his father sits silently, Indiana continues in an annoyed voice. Can’t you remember?
Professor Henry Jones: I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t have to remember.

I have always found wisdom in Henry Jones’ plan. I find more as I grow older. Redeeming the Pastby Father Michael Lapsley, is one of several books I am reading.

photo (7) (768x1024)An Anglican priest, Father Lapsley took an active role in the struggle against South Africa’s apartheid. In 1990, he opened a letter bomb that nearly killed him. The blast took his hands and one of his eyes. His book tells his story of the faith journey that led him to pursue justice, the explosion, his recovery, and how Father Lapsley has drawn on his experience of trauma to help his sisters and brothers in South Africa and around the world seek healing.

Many of his words bear repeating and remembering. I write down a few:

 As we who are disabled demand a place in the sun, we are not just asking people to be nice to us; we are saying, “Actually you can’t be a real community without us.” We don’t ask for pity; we ask for justice. We say, “Don’t just include us in your community. Instead, come, let’s create one together.” That’s a very different concept.

Profound, challenging, humbling, hopeful words. Words that apply in so many situations – in any situation of privilege and oppression and exclusion. Words to ponder, to remember, and to seek to live by.

We cannot be a real community until everyone is a part and we build that community together. May it be so.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Books, Human Rights, Movie

Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela!

This year brings Nelson Mandela‘s 94th birthday: 18 July 2012

To celebrate this day, the UN and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invites us to give 67 minutes to help others as a way to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.

For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

Find 67 ideas for marking Nelson Mandela International Day. You can add your own.

Register your activity for the day.

Learn about activities and events that are already planned.

Like Nelson Mandela International Day on Facebook.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July of each year as “Nelson Mandela International Day.” The day recognizes the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

Giving thanks for Nelson Mandela’s life and witness, may we follow his example on 18 July – and may we make every day a Mandela day when we serve one another.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

A worthy answer

Tracker, the movie of the night, involves Ray Winstone chasing Temuera Morrison across the beauty that is New Zealand. Winstone’s character, a Boer from South Africa, has emigrated after the Boer War. Morrison’s character, a Māori, stands accused of murder.

A detachment of New Zealand soldiers chase Winstone and Morrision. Some of the soldiers fought in the Boer War and witnessed the atrocities of that war. Some did not. In a conversation, one of the soldiers who served says to one of the soldiers who did not:

Just be sure that, when your children ask you what you did, what you did in defense of the realm, you are able to give them a worthy answer.

Sound advice.

Yet it seems to me that this version of the quote provides pretty sound advice to us all in any situation: “Just be sure that, when your others ask you what you did, you are able to give them a worthy answer.”

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie

One fine day

Aoraki/Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in N...

Image via Wikipedia

I am watching Tracker. The film is set in New Zealand. That is why it appeared in my queue.

The story focuses on Ray Winstone, a Boer, who migrates from South Africa to New Zealand after the war with England during which his family perished. When he arrives in New Zealand, members of the military who served in South Africa recognize him.

Winstone’s character, is soon (immediately) pressed into service as a tracker (hence the title). He is hired to track down a Maori accused of murder and played by Temuera Morrison.

The film explores the interactions between the two men. Winstone and Morrison give strong performances. But New Zealand steals the show.

Incredible scenery. Incredible beauty. One fine day . . .

See you along the Trail.

1 Comment

Filed under Movie

Children laughed and smiled

In a place,
a place like too many others,
where poverty stalks the streets,
grinding the people in its deadly embrace,
children laughed and smiled at me today.
Guguletu Township
Cape Town, South Africa

Leave a comment

Filed under Poem


“Jump,” he said.

His khakis neatly pressed,
the white man held the copper coin
just above the outstretched fingers
of the small black child
whose ragged jeans flapped in the breeze
as he vainly sought
to reach the treasure.
“Jump,” they say.
Suffocating in affluence,
they hold up meager morsels –
paltry offerings, contingent upon their whims –
to sisters and brothers in need,
forcing them into games they do not understand
to obtain the pittance
which may allow them to survive.
“Jump,” we say.
The rich, the powerful, the strong:
unwilling to challenge the status quo
seeking not justice
which recognizes relatedness
and brings enlivening co-equality
but offering only the charity
which demeans, denies, degrades.

8 September – 10 September, 2001

 Pinetown, South Africa and Louisville

Leave a comment

Filed under Poem