There is a thickness in the air, as if the entire nation is on standby waiting for a flight to take off. Estimated time of departure is still unknown, as Nelson Mandela’s condition remains critical. The media has been camped outside the hospital where he is being cared for, his family has gathered around him and everyone is trying to come to terms with the unthinkable: a South Africa bereft of Mandela.
How South Africa will as a nation move through the impending period of grief and its aftermath without dear “Madiba”, Mandela’s nickname alluding to the Xhosa tribe to which he belongs, is unclear.
In a previous blog entry on this site (February 2011) I wrote about how Mandela holds a certain vibrational frequency for South Africa. This frequency, of possibility, is palpable in the spirit of modern day South Africa. You can feel it at sports games especially, as there is genuine pleasure in the experience of being unified and cheering for the same team.
During the FIFA World Cup kickoff concert in 2010 they screened a tribute to Mandela and we all danced to Black Eyed Peas and a lip-synching, hips shaking Shakira. Mandela’s presence via AV had the love effect as people around me remarked that it was the first time they had felt that elated since apartheid had ended.
Mandela is surely a modern day alchemist. After apartheid, he was able to pick up the sick, terrorized and wounded pieces of the nation and shape-shift them into a voice that demanded ‘truth and reconciliation’, avoiding civil war. The entire gamut of South Africa’s experience since has been the direct result of this one great man and his standing strong in non-violence and forgiveness.
What is so profound about Mandela is that he is an ordinary man who, under extreme circumstances, chose to be extraordinary in his actions, creating a new pathway for South Africa.
US President Barak Obama who is currently visiting South Africa calls Mandela his personal hero. He is one of mine as well, and I feel privileged to have been able to get to know him more through experiencing life in his country for the past four years. I am nervous thinking about what will come after Mandela. A great light is dimming and my prayer is that a multitude of lights are lit from the the space that will remain.
Mandela is also holding the frequency of hero. This energy will, at the moment of great transition, become available to the masses in a new way. While the people and current day leadership may not have necessarily chosen to follow in the footsteps of their ‘father’ during his life, perhaps in his death another act of large-scale alchemical wonder will occur.
Nelson Mandela in his lifetime experienced the bliss of actualizing his fullest potential. This kind of actualization is one that we all yearn for, yet few of us are lucky enough to experience fully. Imagine a South Africa where people choose to emulate Mandela and experience themselves as fully actualized beings. The rainbow nation would be brilliant and light up the world and I know Tata Madiba would be proud.