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Mandolin Rain

Mandolin Rain

Photograph by Sheldon WoodThere’s a feeling something is missing when someone who has touched your own life in some profound way dies. Like walking past a place where a great tree once stood. Or past a vacant lot in the middle of a city. Theres something unnatural about that empty space. We shrug or shudder as though a cloud has passed over the sun or a cold wind has curled its fingers into the fibres of our clothing. And although we continue to continue with our lives, things are never quite the same. New green shoots thrust upwards around the severed stump. A glassy edifice arises from the rubble strewn across the old foundation. We grow accustomed to the changes. Resigned. Stoic even. But theres a hollowness. Things are never quite the same.

The King is dead. Long live the King! In Myth and fairy tale the natural order was righted when the old King died and was buried. The new king sat beside his queen on the throne and the cycle of life continued once more.  Today in the world of politics there is no new king. No beautiful queen to sit beside him on his throne. Mandela has left no successor who can match his wisdom and stature as a statesman with a canny grasp of human psychology. An unruly rabble of politicians  remain to pick at the carcass of his greatness and capitalise on his legacy.  Mandela’s rich melodic voice rings out over 95 years of human history. He now sits in the hall of the ancestors and the sad sound of a mandolin plays in the rain of our tears. 

Fate and free will lift some men and women high above the heads of ordinary people. uTata. Iconic Father of a fatherless nation still struggling with narcissistic teenage growing pains. His image printed on T-shirts, cook books, mugs and posters. His long walk to freedom leaves footprints in the sand of collective memory.  We carry his greatness in our hearts and feel noble and dignified. Capable of magnanimous deeds and heroic action. Perhaps “freedom” means permission to behave like a prat and throw human excrement on the windows of public buildings; to own a Merc and wear bright-coloured designer clothing; or to sleep peacefully in your bed at night with doors images71895DSWunlocked and windows wide open. But, Mandela’s life has gifted us all with a glimpse of what is possible when we choose what true freedom can bring: Love not hate, forgiveness not revenge.

For some, his death brings with it a sense of relief that this Great Spirit has at last flown free from his frail old body to re-incarnate once more.  For some, his death brings a hiatus in the busyness of life and a time to reflect on a personal and collective history when the rabid dogs of apartheid ripped this beloved country asunder.  For some, this is a time to  grieve deeply personal  losses and mourn the death of this remarkable human being.imagesCABR67C6

Mandela. uTata. Mabiba.  Let us take into our lives your example of forgiveness. Let us lay this like a healing balm over the blistered sores of pain in our relationships with those whose behaviour we find so difficult to comprehend. Let us stand for just one moment, heads bowed, and feel the sprinkling of stardust from your Bright Star.


Bruce Hornsby & the Range performing Mandolin Rain.

Ingrid Hoffman

  • Patricia Mahon

    December 9, 2013at8:54 pm Reply

    How very beautifully you craft the essence of Mandela. And yes, forgiveness is his lasting legacy. May his Bright Star continue to shine on South Africa.

  • Rachael

    December 10, 2013at12:50 am Reply

    Let us lay this like a healing balm over the blistered sores of pain in our relationships with those whose behaviour we find so difficult to comprehend
    In order to do this we must be kind to ourselves first in order to offer to others.
    May he rest in peace and continue to make a difference in peoples lives

  • Beverley

    December 10, 2013at6:30 am Reply

    Hamba Kahle Madiba!
    Thanks for this tribute ! …..my head is bowed with great respect and gratitude.

  • michel

    December 10, 2013at11:15 am Reply

    how beautiful darling ingrid…we are so blessed to have had the spirit of this great soul in our lives…his passing has touched all of our hearts and reminded us of the power of love and forgiveness…thank you for your wonderful words…xx

  • Avanol

    December 15, 2013at11:00 am Reply

    Thank you once again for sharing your take, so eloquently expressed,on the passing of a great soul. The imagery you create with your words around this sadly reflective and thought-provoking time is quite extraordinary.
    And yes, Madiba certainly touched our hearts with the expansiveness of his own dear heart. A heart that was able, after all he had been through,to let go and forgive. To move on with a loving dedication to rebuild the shattered bridges and begin healing a nation wounded and torn by the madness of apartheid.We salute you Madiba.

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