Africa / African / Culture / Tradition

Feelings and Thoughts of the Happiness of Seeming Opposites on Reconciliation Day, December 16 2013

Much has been said and written about the man. And much more will be in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

It’s exhausting. It’s energising. It’s depressing knowing how much a man and his comrades can do for you without you even recognising your debt for their sacrifice; how small, selfish, in your acts you often are. It’s motivating to know how much you can do, how uplifting it is when you realize how big the soul can be.

Today, then, or actually this week, I am getting to seeing how a man can reconcile what often appears irreconcilable elements. Today what I am feeling and thinking is how easy it is to reconcile feelings of exhaustion and energy when you put your whole life behind what you believe in.

Today I am feeling and thinking of the happiness of seeming opposites. That thinking and feeling are not necessarily negative contradictions. Acting and reflecting on our action nearly always lead to an auspicious synthesis.  

Today, even as his body was lowered into his resting yesterday, and this morning raised up as a 9-metre bronze statue in the place up-to-then occupied by JB Hertzog, I realize that indeed there is much to learn from the leading embodiment of black conservative statesmanship and erstwhile revolutionary. One of the lessons that he exemplified is that there are no contradictions in these stances when you believe in your cause. I am learning even at this age that on some occasions conditions call one to become an Umkhonto we Sizwe terrorist and at others demand that you pursue reconciliation. I am learning that it is not necessarily a lie when at one time you act like a benevolent patriarch and yet at another like an advocate of women’s empowerment at the same time.

Above all, today, and over the last ten days, I’m getting ever more deeply to understand that you don’t have to run way from your tradition to become part of a larger world. Of course you can be part of a tradition and modernity.  You can be Mosotho and South African. You can identify be South African and live out your being as part of this wide continent of Africa. You can be African and an internationalist. You can value the capability of tradition to nourish us yet recognise the benefits of modernisation.

Apparent opposites, like thought and feeling, can live very well together in one body and mind.


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