Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Black Pimpernel

I started to feel an anger building in me.
A simmering resentment.
A burning need to challenge and preach, but it's not what he would have wanted.
He would have wanted me to ask the questions, but not judge you based on your answers.
I needed to know if all the people who were crying shared his politics.
I had to know if they loved the ANC as much as he did.
I had a hunger for answers. I wanted to know why none of them would ever talk about what landed him in prison.
Why some believed he was sentenced to life in prison simply for his blackness.
They accused me of being racist when I mentioned bombings and revolutions.
I was being regarded as treasonous for mentioning the very things that he was regarded as treasonous for doing.
Let me be the first to tell you that he would never regret what he did to get where he did.
He was not ashamed.
Are you?
My bitterness is growing. I want us to love him for the right reasons.
I want us to respect him because he gave his life, his breath, his love, his family to the ANC.
He gave his youth, his hearing, his lungs, his health to the cause.
He was not a teddy bear.
It minimises his legacy to treat the revolutionary, the soldier of liberation, the radical, the rebel, as a stuffed animal.
This 'teddy bear' had guts and teeth and weapons in all the right places.
I love him with all my heart.
I love him because of his politics, not in spite of them.
I love him because he managed to make you all believe he wasn't political, even though he was.
I love him because he loved the ANC even more than he loved his freedom.
I love him because he still loved the ANC, even though we make up stories in our heads about how much he'd disapprove of them right now.
He would never have defected.
He would never have broken away.
He might have had a quiet word with leadership, but he wouldn't have publicly dressed them down.
I beg you to love him for all of him, not just the pieces you pick.
I ask that you accept the hard edge with the soft heart.
I urge you to spend this next week of mourning celebrating 'The Black Pimpernel' as much as you do 'Tata'.
Before he was the grandfather of the nation, he was the country's 'most dangerous man'.
I love that about him.
I hope you do too.
But he would never have let me tell you why you should love him.
He would be angry at me for dictating the terms of your feelings.
He would have asked me to be fair, kind and tolerant.
He would not have endorsed this blog post, but I can't help feeling that he might have secretly liked it.