A dirge: On the ascension of Nelson Mandela

We mourn your ascension
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Son of Mother Africa
Father of South Africa
Conqueror of Apartheid
Unprisonable Prisoner
Gracious Spirit
Way Maker
Warrior King…
Your mother is proud of you
And tonight she’ll embrace you.

Nkrumah, Ghandi, Teresa,
King, Malcom, where are you?
Welcome your dear brother
With a calabash of fresh palm wine
For he has a lot to tell you folk. 

Like incorrigible beggars
In the presence of plenty,
They looted and raped
And looted and killed
And looted and stole
Till they thought they
Were kings. Beggar kings.

For twenty seven years, 
You were shackled
Bound by weaklings
Who’d placed their hope 
In their chains and guns and dogs.
They labelled you terrorist
For they were terrified of you
Even when they called you prisoner 46664.

But with each day your mane grew back.
Your spirit stirred, patiently waiting,
Sharpening your claws on Robben’s walls
And then finally you roared.

They peed in their khakis
And dropped their cigars
As the false foundations
Of apartheid on which they’d stood
Crumbled like tired bread before their eyes.

At the mention of your name
At the smell of your presence
At the sighting of your shadow
Even before you roared, they died.

But unlike them you’re an eagle
You don’t feed on the dead
You, Gracious Spirit, are not a vulture. 

After you ‘d lashed them with your kindness
After your words had punched them
In the balls and they lay wriggling like a dying snake
You stretched out your arm to them.
An arm stronger than Shaka’s spear.
You stretched out your arm to them
Even before they could beg your forgiveness
You showed them how humanity must treat humanity.
You showed freedom is worth fighting and dying for.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Today, we mourn your ascension.
We pray that many more like you will come.

Rest in perfect peace, Madiba
Live on Warrior King.
Rest in perfect peace.

Copyright: Nana Kofi Acquah 06/12/2013


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