Jaume Plensa, Talking Continents, 2013
In Defense of Dots
(via 4CP | Four Color Process)
There was, but not anymore.
They called me.
They begged me for help, four hundred of them.
I couldn’t — I couldn’t.
William Windom as Commodore Decker, suffering a bit of culture shock.
… Don’t you think I know that?
With the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s death, my thoughts went back to a glorious February afternoon in 1990.
What will he say? What will Mandela say after 27 years in prison?
That was the feverish question infecting the multitudes who had gathered in the center of Cape Town on the day when the leader of the African National Congress walked to freedom. I was in the crowd, as the South African-based correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. For hours we waited as Mandela, who had been freed earlier that day, reunited with his family, friends and comrades in the struggle against apartheid.
Suddenly, he appeared — a thin, gray stranger, for nobody except a precious few had seen him in nearly three decades. And then he spoke, and a familiarity settled in.
In a deliberate, thoughtful cadence, he uttered pretty much the same words that had landed him behind bars all those years earlier. He repeated the tenets of the ANC’s Freedom Charter, the words he spoke the last time he had been heard in public, at his treason trial: Above all, the end of exclusive white rule, the abolishment of apartheid and racial oppression and the government that enforced it, the demand for equality, dignity, freedom; but also, the continuation of the mass struggle until a new democratically elected government would be formed and the economy reordered to share the country’s great natural wealth for the benefit of all races. Though more than one-third of his life had been taken away from him, he spoke not of revenge but of reconciliation. South Africa needed to come together, not remain apart.
It was a masterful performance, I thought, a demonstration that he hadn’t lost his touch. Mandela needed to convince his supporters, and his foes as well, that he hadn’t changed during all those years away. Physically yes, but in substance certainly not; he was still the same.
This was imperative to maintain the support of the ANC’s hard-edged youth, who knew Mandela only as an imprisoned myth and who had been raised on a campaign of resistance to authority. Here standing before them now wasn’t an old man who had sold out, who had gone soft. The white government hadn’t gotten to him. Nelson Mandela would still be their champion; like the boxer he had once been, he hadn’t backed down. Now he exhorted his countrymen of all races to seize the moment, to be strong and move forward with him.
Read the rest of Pulitzer Center grantee Roger Thurow’s piece about Mandela.