I was there the night the news came, in a crowd of many exuberant Africans enjoying the Hip hop concert at the International Fair in Dakar. Many were dancing, clapping, singing, cheering….truly taking it all in. I watched as a man came onstage and whispered a message into the ear of the performer. A brief discussion, and then the music stopped and the once explosive stage of lights and music went still. The message came that one of the great leaders of Africa, Nelson Mandela, had passed. The crowd went silent. Really, you could have heard a pin drop in a crowd of thousands. I have never wished more for the knowledge of the language as I did that night. I know what was spoken went straight to the hearts of the African people. Maybe it was 10 minutes, maybe more, that I sat along with the crowd as the performer spoke of Mandela. People cried out and openly wept as the tribute to Mandela was graciously delivered…and then it was over. The crowd dispersed and the night went dark. I knew of Nelson Mandela, but only the things that pass by in a flash of the news. Since then, I have learned so much more. I’m forever grateful to God, my parents, the veterans of my country and the access to knowledge to become informed, and I am grateful for all that Nelson Mandela did for Africa, the place that now is so close to my heart. Thank you Nelson Mandela for all you did for your great Nation, for the sacrifices you made and the hope you delivered to the African people. You were and will remain a great man.
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.