A few things on my mind

Archive for December 2013

This is video footage of President Clinton receiving a tour of Robben Island by President Mandela.

A 1990 Town Hall meeting with Nelson Mandela of South Africa anchored by Ted Koppel on ABC Nightline in New York.

Image

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated his birthday by sitting in the rain at FNB stadium at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

The atmosphere at the stadium was electric. There were blacks, whites, Indians, coloureds, South Africans and non-South Africans, young and old, paying tribute to this man. And as I was busy singing in the crowds I looked around and two rows in front of me where five girls, 16 years old at most and I thought what reference do you have of Nelson Mandela? Oh did I mention they were white?

On my way home, I remembered an incident in 1986 – I was seven years old. There were a few uprisings in my small town, like anywhere else across the country. My school was next to a high school. During these uprisings it was common for us to be let home so we primary school kids would not be caught in the cross fire.  There was one where such a warning was not received and out of the blue, the high school kids jumped over the fence into our school yard and told us to get out of class and run home. Wide eyed we ran out to be greeted by police tanks and policemen with guns pointed at us. As they started shooting, I remember my mom running past the tanks and the policemen to grab some of us. That was the country we lived in, where shooting at defenceless unarmed small children was acceptable.

And I had just come back to pay tribute to a man who not only said it was wrong but made it possible for those five girls to sit in that crowd without fear.

We all have things that we will remember Nelson Mandela for, I realised that mine is that if your moral compass falters – the legal system’s compass should be steady. This is what we are struggling with currently; we are surprised that after everything that was fought for and achieved, we find ourselves in a situation where the moral compass is again faltering. Being part of that crowd, I was again reminded that we need to protect and actively participate in those systems, because failure to do so puts us at risk of losing everything we have gained to date.

There is not much that we can do about one’s immorality; however we have legal systems that say if the oppression of defenceless is not immoral it damn is criminal.  

The news of Nelson Mandela’s passing has finally sunk in. It reminded me of W. H. Auden’s poem ‘Stop all the Clocks’.

So here we are, four days into his death and over the past three days we were reminded about what the man fought for – an all-inclusive South Africa. On Friday, 6 December, three people made three ignorant statements about Nelson Mandela. One I reminded that today, this moment, this time, is not the time you want to be ignorant, unconsciously so or not.  

We are going to take this week to mourn. And when we are done we must reflect and map out our future. Watching the documentaries on his life, I was once again reminded that an all-inclusive South Africa was the beginning – not the end.

So we mourn –and those who do not understand what the big deal is must keep quite. This is not the time to let your ignorance run free.

Yesterday my husband and I went to my daughter’s awards evening – by invitation only and siblings had to be left behind. Poor Pompies he missed out on seeing his sister on stage, but probably would have caused a fuss – he is her biggest fan. While the invitation means that your child will be receiving an award, the school does not specify which award the child will be receiving.

This meant that every category mentioned we had to pay extra attention and wait with baited breath that our child will be called forth to receive her due praise.  If you know anything about my husband – this was pure torture. Especially because the first two categories his child did not feature. The first category was 100+ merit awards, these awards encourage good behaviour and the last time I counted  she was on 50+, I had no hope of her winning. Two reasons really, she is my daughter so had she been awarded for good behaviour it would be like “Apple falling far from the tree” and secondly she is 7 years old any child that behaves that well at that age, raises my eyebrows.  Then there was the 100% attendance – this award is for all those kids that never missed a day of school.  My husband however was again puzzled when his daughter did not win – and he is the same guy who some days tells her to stay at home because she is tired.  So past the school choir “singing” we came to the second part of the ceremonies.

I am proud to say that my daughter won 2 gold certificates and one trophy (all for academic excellence) yes I brag. Then she received a gold medal for best performance in hockey in her age group – again I am bragging. The one downer for her was when they awarded the best speller in her grade. She had come second out of 100 children in her grade (Grade 1), she lost in the last round – it was a tie between her and this boy and she got one word wrong and he consequently won. She was devastated, she cannot fail.

My daughter cannot deal with failure – she has in her own words said “Mommy I cannot fail”. While I too am very competitive and believe nothing is worth doing if you are not going to give it your all, and maybe I have gone around and said there is no room for failure but have I now created a monster?

I know this girl that I went to high school with, she was captain of this, head of that and leader of this and beauty queen 5 years running (or something ridiculous like that) – you know the ones ‘most likely to succeed’. I met her a few years ago and she had not turned out as expected. I don’t want my child to turn out like that.  I don’t want that by the time she needs to kick it into gear that she has lost the the need to achieve. 

I am not sure if I am putting too much pressure on her – will there be more damage done to her than good? What is a fair balance between striving for excellence and just putting children under pressure?

I am comforted by the fact that for now her idea of a celebration was a meal from McDonalds and I must buy her a toy – which she will get to pick herself. So keeping an eye on things – watching what and how I say things….again being responsible for these little people is hard.