On Remembering Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial

13 Dec

On Remembering Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial
I am again that child, mere 12yrs or so,
About to grate potatoes for the soup
On yesterday’s newspaper spread
Across the table top.
His picture: striking. Life it says…
A terrorist; an evil man.
Tears well into my eyes
And I wish that I could
Save the paper
If then not the man.
My dad says ‘no’.
He is a criminal!
The paper goes.
The law says so.
No pictures to be kept.
His name not to be said.
I make the soup and wrap
The waste with his words
And face on the printed page-
The whole of the court case there-
Consigned to the compost heap.

Looking back it dawns on me
So late, so late, too late for him
But not for me:
1959- Oudtshoorn
The location was demolished;
The brown ownership area a ghost town.
Doors hang on hinges half torn in the wind
There are no people to be seen,
A tractor with a wrecking ball
Stares at me
And next to it the other tractor
Raised its scoop high for me to see,
My throat shuts tight
And I can hardly breath.
Nor can I move and
Rooted to the spot
I watch the two machines
That will crush the house
I love to dust.
He, dad, he never saw that though;
Never told him too.
It was so painful, just to know.
But as I stood there 12yr child,
And saw what the paper told,
I knew what Nelson was about
And shed a tear or two.
Now too I see that
Dad had to protect me
From myself and laws
That might be just or not
For if I went to school and said:
“Today for oral my topic is
About a man who went to jail
Mandela is his name…

Sometimes we see so late.
.® Jeanihess
This is an unfinished work and a haunting memory.JH

Jeanihess Blog South Africa


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