Poem for Nelson Mandela.

I expect everybody’s read enough Nelson Mandela poems by now,  but here’s mine anyway...


“What’s it got to do with us?”  refrained
my father when his boys
spurned the bottle of Cape Red plonk
he’d serve with Sunday roast.  Despite how it stained,
he’d never grasp our umbrage at his choice,
but Nelson’s cell was like a sunken rock
to which our teenage optimism was chained.

There seemed no end back then to that regime.
We did what little we could:
refused the wine and fruit.  How shocked 
we’d be to learn our young utopian dreams 
of ripping apart apartheid has come good.
I’ve walked up Table Mountain,  seen people construct
a rainbow from the ashes of what’s been.
Because sometimes our most naive dreams come true.
The day I saw the man
walking free - more than free -
free to lead a government,  I knew
collective will had smashed the apartheid plan,
had beaten our elders’ political apathy,
had beaten Thatcher,  shackled to a view

that “Rainbow Nations” were nothing but contrivance,
decrying calls for sanctions
- the will of those with too much sense 
to sanction a racist state with our connivance,
delighting in the truth that if your stance on
something’s fair and just,  no guards,  no fence,
no locks nor prison walls can keep it silenced.

ApartheidNelson Mandelapoem

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Fri 13th Dec 2013 11:57

Well worth reading.

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Laura Taylor

Mon 9th Dec 2013 11:06

Fantastic poem - I absolutely love this, and identify with it very strongly.

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Sat 7th Dec 2013 09:17

This is only the second one I've read, so you're lucky ;)

I did enjoy it though. Thanks for posting it.

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Tim Ellis

Sat 7th Dec 2013 08:45

Thanks Greg, I'm pleased that you like it. It's one of a collection I'm working on about South Africa. Most of the other poems are about birds and animals.

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Greg Freeman

Sat 7th Dec 2013 03:26

I found this very moving, Tim. You capture well that sense when we were young that the oppression of apartheid would never change.

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