Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Mandela and De Klerk by Wayne Visser

Divergent paths by twists of fate

Ordained to meet, then separate

High branches grown from different stems

That intertwined to make amends


Who are these sons of destiny

That changed the course of history?

Who are these dons of liberty

That led their people to be free?


Mandela – from the Themba clan

Among the hills of Transkei land –

Was schooled to be a royal chief

But chose instead the golden Reef


De Klerk – of Afrikaaner stock

Who staked their claim to Transvaal’s rlock –

Was steeped in National Party depths

And followed in his father’s steps


Both knocked upon unopened doors

Both tipped the scales of unjust laws

And each was raised to lofty heights

By willing hands and vexing plights


Mandela – asked to fight the ground

Where dignity was beaten down

De Klerk – compelled to guard the fort

Of privilege the past had bought


The stage was set for black and white

To go to war or lose the fight

There was no neutral ground to stand

Each corner backed their leading man


Mandela raised the nation’s spear

The State replied midst rising fear

The ‘pimpernel’ was put on trial

And banished to the Cape’s jail isle


For twenty seven years and more

The battle raged upon the shore

Until De Klerk set Nelson free

To take their place in history


Negotiations followed swift

To heal the wounds and mend the rift

And even while blood soaked the ground

A partnership was sought and found


Until the day – that happy dawn –

A rainbow nation’s dream was born

We owe a debt of thanks and praise

To those who led us through the maze


Mandela brought great unity

And showed that truth can set us free

His lack of spite inspires us still

To strive to serve a higher will


De Klerk’s great gift was letting go

And having faith that trust can grow

He showed that change is like a seed

That knows no bounds of race or creed


And so we raise our voice and say:

We celebrate upon this day

Two heroes of democracy

Who rescued our humanity.

Copyright 2008

Me, De Klerk and my co-author of "South Africa: Reasons to Believe", Guy Lundy

Picture 2003

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