Our Madiba, Rolihlahla Mandela (Nelson Mandela)

The poet Laureate of Great Britain, the poet Andrew Motion :

That straight walk from the

prison to the gate –

that walk the world saw, and

which changed the world –

it led you through to life from

life withheld,

from broken stones with your

unbroken heart.


To life which you imagined

and then lived,

which once we shared in your


but soon shared in the

present that you shaped;

the life which gave each

human hope its chance

of turning into truth and

staying true;

the life which understood

what changing takes;

the life which showed us we

become ourselves

in part by watching you

becoming you.


The poet Seamus Heaney, The poet reflects upon the world-historical significance of such a rare merger of hope and history :

Human beings suffer.

They torture one another.

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured.


History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up

And hope and history rhyme.


So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a farther shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles

And cures and healing wells.


If there’s fire on the mountain

And lightning and storm

And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing

The outcry and the birth-cry

Of new life at its term.


It means once in a lifetime

That justice can rise up

And hope and history ryhme.



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