Nobody needs my thoughts on Mandela’s passing but the political is personal and in this case, very much so.
I remember my dad sitting me in front of the TV to watch the news coverage of a smiling old African man being freed from prison amid a throng of a million more smiling people.
I didn’t connect him to the summer two years before, when I was seven and my dad went to Africa.
I didn’t connect him to Mavis Beacon, the fictional character who taught me typing.
I didn’t quite cotton to the fact that Mandela was a leader of the ANC, though I did know daddy was working for the ANC when he was in Africa (for some reason, for years and years, I thought he went to Zimbabwe, not
South Africa Zambia. I think I just liked the word. EDIT: Shelley just reminded me it was Zambia, because they were in exile from South Africa. My legendary memory strikes again).
What I knew was that the men that daddy taught computer skills in Africa (somewhere in Africa) for the ANC liked Mavis Beacon because she was beautiful and black. I kind of hated her because I was terrible at typing and my windshield was immediately covered with bug-splats (please tell me you know what I’m talking about), but that really wasn’t Mavis Beacon’s fault.
And moreover, I just typed this in less than three minutes, probably 15 errors total (I’m fast with the backspace), and my colleagues constantly comment on how fast my little fingers fly over the keys. So thanks, Miss Mavis.
And moreover, I can listen to the coverage of his death and think about what it meant that my dad devoted a couple months of his life to the organization that was keeping Mandela’s flame alive all those terrible years.
Let us not forget. America considered the ANC a terrorist organization at the time. America — Saint Ronald in particular — was on the wrong side of history.
But thank god, most Americans weren’t. Thanks god, the arc of justice is as strong as it is. Thank god for people like those men, those women, my daddy, and, of course, Mandela.