Sunday, 15 December 2013

Nelson Mandela...Poem and Peace by Miriam Halahmy


In 1952, the year I was born, Nelson Mandela opened his law firm and became involved in  ANC defiance activities. All my life he has gone before me as a beacon of hope and reconciliation. In the 60s as my political consciousness was developing I became more and more aware of  apartheid.


As a student in the 70s I helped to swell the tide of demonstration in Trafalgar Square. 








In the 80s I took my seven year old son to the vigil outside the South African Embassy and we signed the demand to release Mandela and end apartheid.
I could never buy a Cape apple.









In 1994 I sat and watched Mandela vote for the first time in his life. The most extraordinary smile broke over his face, almost shy, yet beaming, as he posted his slip of paper into the slot. That smile lit up the world.


The next day I went to the supermarket and proudly bought my very first bag of green Cape apples. Now it felt safe. Mandela was not only free but he had cast his vote. 
I went home, dumped the apples in the sink, turned on the tap and as I began to peel off the stickers a huge smile spread over my face.



I sat down and wrote this poem :

Washing Apples

Like Mandela casting his vote, I smile
and peel Cape stickers from green apples,
reel back the years, vigil, marches,
taking my small son to sign.

He knows now why I said,
at street stalls and supermarkets, 'Not those or those'
why it was never just an apple.

 © Miriam Halahmy

 As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.
Nelson Mandela   1918-2013

This is the mark of the man and this is his legacy. Peace and reconciliation can be achieved between neighbours, peoples, countries. We are all citizens of the world.





5 comments:

Heather Dyer said...

Moving poem - thanks.

h

Joan Lennon said...

Thank you for this, Miriam.

Karen said...

A lovely post, Miriam. Very moving.

Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely post, Miriam.

Sue Hyams said...

Wonderful post! x