Before I knew even an approximate location of his village of birth on the world map (for lack of geographic vision on my behalf), I had heard about the “freedom fighter Nelson Mandela of Africa” while I was still on Turkish grounds. My undergraduate years helped me intensify my admiration for him – though still not at all with any in-depth understanding of what he meant for humanity at large. Only later was I to attain the appreciation of his gift to people everywhere. Below, I am sharing with you a poem I wrote from the perspective of a little girl. While I refer to her as “a little girl”, she embodies the young woman who became the object of ridicule on account of her interest in a far away continent but also for behaving as if she were a native disciple of a most prominent world leader. She then meets Madiba, her object of adoration, after all. And when she does, she complains to him about her unsuccessful attempts to connect with him – this time, her mannerism is that of a spoiled little child. In despair, she concludes she arrived too late. It was her lifelong wish to see her Madiba, after all. However, for her (unversed) celebration of integrity, dignity, fairness, persistence, love of freedom, peace and humanity – the makings of life’s aorta she learned from this legendary human being, there is no lateness. As she realizes it in her grown matter. For she is “no longer the same”…
what, did you say, your name is?
neither an African nor with any other honor
to wait for my turn…
too many call you father brother “our leader”
i have for long been reading their proud demeanor
from the ever so negligent sidelines
cursing my whiteness along most times
i, too, have known you all my life!
spreading your word has still been a strife
ridiculed when in my native land
to the mundane most would rather clap a hand
no one could utter Xhosa even the word
Zulu or Afrikaans? nowhere to be heard
i am grateful better yet in a daze
in disbelief of my timing of seeing these days
i beg of you imagine, Sir: Qunu
why did i deserve bunu*
i trekked ocean crests and river beds
slept in caves made tree tops my nests
doves and eagles flew with me to find my way
not even once did i go astray
tears now flood in me in red
from Sinop to Eastern Cape
what use? i am so gravely late!
Madiba Sir? my name?
hülya n yılmaz, no longer the same
*Impersonal pronoun in Turkish in the accusative case meaning “this”
[Inner Child Press Mandela anthology]
~ ~ ~
Before I sign off for today, I would also like to refresh an announcement I made to you a few weeks back regarding the launch of my part-time freelance writing and editing business. Instead of adding another blog, I ended up creating my own webpage, Services for the Professional Writer.
As always, my best wishes are with you for your Sunday and new week. I look forward to your next visit.