Mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela

by Sherrie Bond

The services for Nelson Mandela resonated many emotions, worldwide. Crowd control alone must have been incredible with the volume of individuals paying their respects. One thing I noticed, from the announcement of his death to his burial today, was respect. Contrary to the “goodbyes” given other world leaders where riots in the street are common as one faction hated the guy and the other side loved him to death … Mandela held the respect, it seems, of all. There was decorum, dignity, solemnity, propriety nothing “over the top” as has been seen with other world figures. Mandela was born into royalty; his Father was a tribal king. Mandela could have stepped into that slot but instead, he sought an education and focused upon how he could help his nation. How he could do the sculpting of his nation into a country, not judging people by the color of their skin but the depth of their soul.

Custom, culture and tribal rituals sometimes skew what Americans view as “funeral services”, but the differences shouldn’t be taken as offensive or barbaric. We are a world made up (nowadays in particular) of a Duke’s mixture with a variety of traditions as to how we say goodbye to our loved ones. Some cultures place their leaders in a glassed in coffin, embalmed and there for the world to view as years go on. Others dedicate their leaders to a blazing pyre in which many family members (or at least the next of kin) throw themselves to the flame to join their loved one. There are mass graves, individual tombs, articles placed beside the deceased that he/she would need to have on their journey to the other side.

But, Mandela’s public service opened up a gaping opportunity for disruption. Crowd control was one of the problems simply by volume, traffic was an issue causing world leaders to arrive late, security was tight but I don’t think dense enough as we witnessed a sign language fraud, interpreting speeches by world leaders, Obama included. I find this to be strange and frightful. This was a known “gate crasher” with no interpretive skills, standing before the crowd of mourners and celebrants. He stood elbow to elbow to each dignitary who brought forward praise of Mandela’s contributions to a more peaceful world, an equality of man, opportunity, life. No one questioned his presence. No one wondered about his “hinky”, incoherent signage but there was a gut feeling that all was not right with the world. (Of course in a crowd such as the funereal grieving, a quick camera scan could point out dozens of wacky behaviors by citizens, youth, outsiders and even dignitaries. I think nervousness and grief can bring out odd behavior in even those who should know better.)

So what happens when you have a semi-loon behind a bullet proof glassed in stage? Will he crack? Will he pull out a gun and eliminate people behind the glass shield? Will he shoot himself? Was he vetted before being placed on the state and by whom? Were world leaders in danger? Who will ever know? Everyone got through it with nary a scratch, the “signer” was found out to be a fraud, but what was his purpose? His fifteen minutes of fame? Ta-Dah! The man’s name is Thamsanqa Jantjie, he was paid to interpret but every movement was faked. He has labeled himself a schizophrenic who saw angels flying around the stage and a tree he was trying to climb.

An interesting point I took away from this celebration, and indeed it was a celebration of the Spirit of Mandela: Here was a young man, fearless perhaps or on the contrary at least brave who went to battle to stop apartheid, create equality, cease battle and death, join each other to improve their country as a whole. He was a young man; a college guy. He had gigantic dreams and unbelievable goals that he turn into truth. Along the way the government felt he was pushing too hard, stepping beyond his boundaries and someone need to shut him up … Mandela was on the run for 17 years before he was jailed and transferred to prison. He wasn’t allowed a life; he broke rocks in the blazing sun, he had no book, no writing material, he would come in from his daily chores, have some food and then lie on his cot to end the day. Mandela didn’t lie on his cot though and veg out; he didn’t dream of freedom or how tasty his Mama’s cookin’ might be. He lay alive in his brain and considered what he could do, if and when he was released, to make South Africa the Nation of its destiny. Twenty seven years later he did just that. He was a Nobel Prize winner, he was the “Grandfather of all Wisdom”, he was saluted and held reverent by those who fought alongside him, he was the Grandfather to the children who worshipped him and it was those very children and their offspring who danced and celebrated Mandela’s death in front of him home, the night he passed at 95 years old.

Nelson Mandela was a man of dignity. He was a man of culture. He was simple in his needs, his likes and dislikes. He was a common man, with a huge heart, a shining soul and more thoughts crossing his mind than anyone can imagine.

He would never be one to shoot a “selfie” with friends during a ritualistic celebration. It would never cross his mind to behave in any manner lacking comportment. I’m quite sure that Mandela heard (more than once from his Mama), “you behave, show your pride, stand tall and represent your family, show gratification and joy, honor your elders, be dignified” … all those behaviors that our Mama’s told us as they sent us out the door.

Joy radiated from the Man when he walked out of the prison gates and even in his most serious moments he glowed with the joy surrounding him, with the radiance shining upon him.

I feel quite certain today, Nelson Mandela is lighting the Heavens with that same radiance, he’s helping where he can, he’s greeting, visiting, accepting praise and thank you from all which he helped free from the chains that drug them down and the whips that slashed them open.
Mandela may be gone but he is far from forgotten and never will be. He was gentle. He was tough. He was brilliant. He was unafraid. He knew compromise. He knew abuse and hard times. He knew fear, joy and success. He was a man of honor. He was beyond believable when he told his people he would lead them to a better life and he welcomed them and those of many colors to join him and live a better life. He was superior.

The curtains may have closed on the physical Nelson Mandela but the spirit and promise will Life forever.

Lala Ngoxolo Tata
“Rest in Peace, Madiba”

I can’t begin to thank all of you for the responses regarding Our America and the strong feelings we all have for her in her Glory. Yup, she’s a good ol’ girl and will remain so if we can keep her toes out of the mud and the muck.

There were many letters regarding the article in Loggers World written by Dr. Fergusson that raised everyone blood pressure. Because I have a couple of days to get this article into Log Trucker for the January 2014 issue, I’m squeezed regarding the objectivity of Fergusson and his mentors. In January I’ll actually have three weeks to research what’s going on and head for the Legislature for a discussion with my guys that glow in the dark on these issues. We’ll find out what the heck the objective is and what we are going to do about it. Fair enough?

I had a pretty good follow-up column to last month’s that I was going to finish up, but this is more important when you are being threatened with someone screwing with your CDL, determining your life span and hour of death via your BMI and discussing your documentation needs with “Little Lulu Loony” who thinks she was born knowing about issuing medical cards and determining health concerns! Hell I’ve got shoes older than most of these kids and I’m not ready to stand in place and let them take down my CDL, diminish my record, question my safety or knock me down a grade because of their opinion.

This is the January issue I’m just finishing up and the February issue will be the hot one at the Oregon Logging Conference. I’m hoping that the Oregon Log Truckers can throw in a note or two about how they are managing while I do some digging up this way. (You can, can’t you guys?)
Here’s wishing you and yours a Happy New Year. It’s been a bumpy 2013, but I have Faith in the pressures that be to pull us up by the boot straps and begin the forward march. Key in this issue is that we (and that’s a huge WE) need to be right on the front lines making sure we stand up for ourselves, because the caliber of legislators (and the majority of them) found in D.C. today are there for two things ~~ long term employment and a hefty pension. They don’t give a ratzaz for any of us. We need to put the pressure on, keep the information flowing and stand up for not only what we believe, but what we know is right! Nice guys don’t finish last these days … nice guys get trampled on the way to the head and no one ever goes back to pick them up.

I truly thank you all for the input and comments; Patrick Wilson from Tyee Timber and Lumber in Arlington; Bill Marion over in Post Falls, Idaho, Jeff Adams with Adams Logging; thanks also to Andy Anderson over on the Peninsula at Port Angeles. I had a great note from Dan Loeffler who has a small tree farm down in Oregon and of course more mail from my buddy, “Old Coyote” down in the Gorge. Couple you guys with my local trucking relatives and I’ve gotten an earful this month. That’s good though and I love the challenges you bring forth. I’ll get as many answers to your questions as I can and schedule meetings with our Timber County District Legislators to set up a fat chewing session and straighten somebody out.

In the meantime, take care. Winter is a’comin on and you all need to keep the dirty side down. I’ll have you in my thoughts as you head out each day to not only save and regenerate our timberlands, but nurture it back to health. Never, never think you are in this alone! There’s at least one fighter who has got your back.