This thoughtful post and lovely song comes to us from member Tom Smith. For use in the classroom, the song would be especially appropriate for students in middle school and older. You can learn more about Tom and his music, here.
As the old year ends and the new begins, it is customary to look back and reflect upon all that has happened in 2013. There have been so many newsworthy events and the passing of many notable individuals. In addition, each of our private histories have been affected by personal milestones and transitions.
Since his death on December 5th, I found myself reflecting upon the extraordinary life and accomplishments of Nelson Mandela. How remarkable that a man who was imprisoned for twenty seven years could emerge and lead a campaign of reconciliation to found a new rule of law in South Africa based not upon the color of one’s skin but upon love and respect.
My personal connection with Nelson Mandela centers around his visit to Boston in June of 1990, only four months after his release from prison. Janice Allen, a wonderful music teacher at my children’s school (and where my wife Margo and I work) was asked to assemble a children’s choir to sing at Boston’s Hatch Memorial Shell where Mr. Mandela would be celebrated. Our two older children, Heather (ten years old) and Andrew (eight years old) joined about fifty other children from all over the city. Twenty three years later, they can still sing N’Kosi Sikelel (The South African National Anthem).
To me, a seed on a stone is the perfect metaphor for a song to honor Nelson Mandela. This metaphor is simultaneously hopeful and hopeless. A seed is the physical embodiment of re-birth, yet circumstances that place it on a stone present a struggle that most would write off as hopeless. Nelson Mandela has said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” However, the impossible is done as represented in this image of a tree which, against all odds, split a boulder.
After Nelson Mandela’s death, media pundits remarked how his life was so remarkable that we can expect to see such an example only once in a century. While I appreciate the sentiment of this comment, it also made me sad. It is my hope that such examples would be normal and typical among our leaders. When I despair over the current state of national and world leadership, I rekindle my hope by looking to the example of Nelson Mandela.
“Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa” in Xhosa)
See the original post here.