It was a horrible time of our lives when Vic started going to the Pain Clinic. Her pain was out of control – or so I thought. It was actually just “preparation school” for what was yet to come…. I was mortified that she was on 600 mg of morphine, a week…. When Hospice accepted Vic onto the program in 2013, a mere 9 years later, she was already on 600mg of morphine, twice per day.
Vic needed to consult with an anaesthetist, specialising in pain control, on a monthly basis. He would examine her and re-evaluated her pain medication. We need an original prescription for morphine. It was one of those dreadful experimental phases of her life. But, bad things lead to great things…
The Pain Clinic was situated in an élite part of our city. It was a mission to get to it and took many hours out of a day.
“If you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do what I have asked, I will live forever.”
This particular day Vic was in terrible pain, and it was difficult moving her from the car into the wheelchair. Her beautiful eyes were dark from pain and filled with tears. I remember thinking “How tiny and sad she looks”…
We stood waiting for the elevator. It felt like a lifetime. All I wanted to do was get Vic into the consulting rooms so she could get a booster shot of morphine. I was getting quite impatient, with the delay of the lift, when it started moving down. I noticed quite a build-up of people on the outer periphery but did not pay too much attention to them. I was totally focussed on my child’s pain and discomfort.
The door opened. Two tall men, wearing sunglasses, walked out. There was an audible gasp in the hall. The greatest statesman in the world, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, stood behind them. He was so tall! In total awe I moved Vic’s wheelchair back clearing the way for this amazing man.
He walked out of the lift and walked towards us. He stood in front of Vic. He stooped down, stuck out his hand, and said “Hello my dear. How are you?”
“I am fine thank you Mr President,” Vic said
“I hope you feel better soon,” he said in his beautiful, raspy yet gentle voice.
He greeted me, still holding her little hand. I will never forget his gentle eyes. He had an aura of greatness.
Vicky and Nelson Mandela – Two great warriors locked in a moment of kinship.
“Goodbye” he said and walked away.
I know that Vic and Nelson Mandela will meet, again, in Heaven… I believe that the two brave souls will recognise one another. This time there will be enough time for them to linger and chat. The people they are it will be about their loved ones, the grace they experienced in their lives… I know they will not discuss the hardship, pain or suffering they lived…
Two incredible people… Nelson Rohihlahla Mandela and Vicky Bruce. Heroes of many… two people who made a difference, through their suffering; their bravery and inner strength.
Nelson Mandela, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-apartheid leader imprisoned for decades before becoming South Africa’s first black president and an international symbol of freedom, has died at 95. He had long been battling complications from a respiratory infection.
Mandela was at the center of sweeping changes across South Africa during a tumultuous period that saw the former Dutch and English colony transition from apartheid‚ a racist class structure in place since the early 1900s that limited the rights of black South Africans and codified rule by the white Afrikaner minority‚ into an inclusive democracy that enfranchised millions of non-whites who were deprived even of their citizenship under the repressive system.
His opposition to apartheid came with a cost: Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner for his association with the African National Congress, a black-rights group that sometimes resorted to violence in resisting the white government. Denounced as a terrorist and communist sympathizer, Mandela spent close to two decades of his internment in a dank concrete cell on Robben Island, where the glare of the sun during his work shifts in a lime quarry permanently damaged his eyesight. An international campaign resulted in his release from prison on February 11th, 1990. Negotiations soon followed with South African President F.W. de Klerk that led to the dismantling of apartheid four years later, when South Africa held a multi-racial general election that elevated Mandela to the presidency. In 1993, he and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.
As president, Mandela sought to repair rifts among South Africa’s factions and ethnicities, and he enacted a new constitution, appointed a diverse cabinet and established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by the government and the ANC. He declined to run for a second five-year term, and left the presidency in 1999.
“Mandela shows what was possible when a priority is placed on human dignity, respect for law, that all people are treated equally,” President Barack Obama said while visiting South Africa over the summer. “And what Nelson Mandela also stood for is that the well-being of the country is more important than the interests of any one person. George Washington is admired because after two terms he said enough, I’m going back to being a citizen. There were no term limits, but he said I’m a citizen. I served my time. And it’s time for the next person, because that’s what democracy is about. And Mandela similarly was able to recognize that, despite how revered he was, that part of this transition process was greater than one person.”
Born to illiterate parents with distant connections to the ruling family in one of South Africa’s indigenous territories, Mandela spent his childhood tending cattle and attending a local Methodist mission school, which instilled in him a lifelong love of learning. His political awakening began when he developed an interest in his African heritage while attending a college for black students, and deepened while he studied law in the Forties, when he joined the ANC.
Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANC’s Youth League, which elected him national president in 1950. Inspired by Gandhi, he initially advocated nonviolent resistance before adopting a more militant outlook in the mid-Fifties as civil disobedience proved ineffective. He was first arrested in 1952 as part of a government crackdown on suspected communists, and he spent the next 12 years in and out of custody as he and the ANC worked to undermine apartheid. He was convicted in 1964 on charges of conspiracy to violently overthrow the government and sentenced to life in prison.
His imprisonment prompted an international outcry, and apartheid made South Africa the subject of economic sanctions and cultural boycotts in the Eighties that helped secure Mandela’s release and end apartheid.
After he left the presidency, Mandela established the Nelson Mandela Foundation to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS and advocate for rural development and the construction of schools. He became a vocal critic of the U.S. and Britain for their 2003 invasion of Iraq, and though he largely retired from the public eye in 2004, Mandela helped bring the World Cup to South Africa in 2010.
Mandela is survived by his third wife, Graça Machel, whom he married on his 80th birthday, and his ex-wife Winnie Mandela, along with three children, 16 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
South Africans from all walks of life are gearing up to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day on Thursday, the 18th of July. This is in honour of Nelson Mandela‘s legacy, whose life and commitment to democracy has shown that everyone is useful and has potential to bring change for the good of all.
The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Nelson Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008 when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”
The United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”.
- UN website:www.un.org/mandeladay
- Play Your Part, a social network that links individuals eager to make a difference with community organisations:www.playyourpart.co.za
People around the world are challenged to spend at least 67 minutes doing good work in their communities in honour of the 67 years that Mandela gave in service and sacrifice. Please help us make the world a better place!
The overarching objective of Mandela Day is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and in doing so build a global movement for good. Ultimately it seeks to empower communities everywhere. “Take Action; Inspire Change; Make Every Day a Mandela Day.”
‘It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all’ – Nelson Mandela (Photo: Mandela Day)
South Africa‘s focus this year would be “on community development and a call to everyone to use their energies, wisdom and skills to contribute towards eradicating poverty, addressing food security and reducing hunger”
An evening visit to the designated gravesite of Nelson Mandela, prayers for forgiveness to the ancestral forefathers and the tribal elders travelling to Pretoria to be with South Africa’s greatest hero is just some of the drama surrounding Nelson Mandela’s imminent passing.
The gravesite is situated about 500 metres from Mandela’s Qunu residence and is reserved for the Mandela family.
It has been reported that elders in the Mandela family visited the family gravesite in Qunu, on Tuesday evening, to plead for forgiveness from their ancestors for exhuming the bodies of family members in 2011 by Mandla – the favourite grandson. It is tribal custom that gravesites are either visited early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
The elders are furious with former president Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla for digging up the remains of his father Makgatho and his father’s two siblings, Makaziwe and Thembekile, and moving them to Mandela’s birthplace Mvezo. The elders have advised the family that “the Mandelas are being punished through making their beloved son (Nelson Mandela) suffer in hospital where he remains in great pain and anguish”. The elders visited the gravesite to plead for their ancestral forefather’s forgiveness and to seek advice as what to do during this difficult time.
The elders in the Mandela family have attributed Mandela’s ill health and constant hospitalization for a lung infection to the “wrath of the ancestors”.
The “wrath” was caused by the fact that Mandla Mandela, the Mvezo chief, removed the remains without consulting anyone.
Elders with knowledge of AbaThembu traditions and customs told the family that this had angered the forefathers which resulted in a curse being put on the Mandela family, by the ancestors.
City Press reported that after the meeting it was decided that elders – men only – should visit the gravesite to appeal to the ancestors to spare Mandela from suffering. Mandla did not go to the family gravesite where the elders had gone to plead with the ancestors.
It was decided at the gravesite that a delegation would visit Mandela in hospital.
“I will be going to see Tata (Father) in hospital. He cannot be alone at this hour of need. He needs AbaThembu and his family next to him,” Mtirara, an elder, said.
South Africa has such a diverse society. One of the greatest problems that face the nation in their religious walk, whatever that may be, is that the tribes revert to their dead for advice in the time of a crisis. On Sundays people will attend church and praise and worship God for hours. Six days a week, they will consult the forefathers or their spokesmen, if they have a crisis…
Superstition and witchcraft is rife in South Africa. Witchdoctors or Traditional Healers is acknowledged as a profession ….some medical aids even pay for their services. Companies have to accept a “sick note” from a Traditional Healer, who has no formal medical training.
Outside the Heart Hospital in Pretoria thousands of people have gathered singing hymns and burning candles in prayer for our beloved Madiba. Elsewhere the bones are being cast and rituals to appease the forefathers are being performed.
In the words of Mandla Mandela “At the end of the day, my grandfather’s fate, like that of everyone else, lies with God and our ancestors”
The prayer/request is the same. “Please end Madiba’s suffering. Allow him to die the way he lived…..with dignity.”
Why is it that at the time of death arguments and strife will prevail?
Whilst one of the world’s greatest statesmen, Nelson Mandela, is fighting for his life – his family is bickering… They are bickering about the burial site of the Rainbow Nation’s Icon, their father and grandfather.
The family are torn between Nelson Mandela’s favorite grandson Mandla, who wants him buried at his Mvezo birthplace, and the rest of the family, who feel that his wish to be buried next to his children should be respected.
The chieftain had moved the remains of his father Makgatho, who died of an Aids-related illness in 2005; his aunt Makaziwe, who died in 1948 at only nine months; and uncle Thembekile, who was killed in a car accident in 1969, to Mvezo. This is making it impossible for Madiba to be buried next to his children because they are buried in Mvezo. Mandela is going to be buried in Qunu. . Mvezo is the birthplace and the traditional home of the Mandelas, and thereby lies its historic and heritage significance. Qunu is the rural home of Nelson Mandela.
So whilst this brave warrior is edging closer to death his family have to make decisions that may rip the family apart.“Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the Shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.”
“The passage towards death is a difficult journey,” an ANC activist told Channel 4 News. “This country needs to celebrate his life, rather than let his death become a source of conflict. There is thing that we all unite on: all of us love Mandela. This nation will sink into deep mourning when he finally leaves us, no matter how prepared we think we might have been.”
Will the Mandela family unite in this time of sorrow or will they bring dishonour to this icon’s name?
In the meantime, South Africans are united in prayer. United in our desire for this amazing man to be allowed to die with dignity. That his family will behave with dignity and decorum…. Make Nelson Mandela proud….