To mourn his death and celebrate his life, Poetry Zone have opened the International Nelson Mandela Poetry Tribute, as a fitting way to gather poetic tributes from around the world in an online collection – accessible to all. They welcome all contributions and would appreciate your support in alerting people to this global poetry initiative.
Nelson Mandela was a man to whom poetry and the poetry of words mattered. There’s the legend of his reading of Invictus to his fellow prisoners on Robben Island, but in every speech Mandela worked language to leverage its impact. He may not have formally published poetry, but Mandela was a poet.
On his death, the US State Department issued a poem by Maya Angelou in memory of Nelson Mandela and there have been earlier tributes by Thabo Mbeki and Tupac Shakur. At his memorial on Tuesday his Grandchildren showed the power of poetry, rousing the crowd with short electric stabs in a call and response tribute to Mandela’s modesty and power.
For the many people who write poetry around the world, an opportunity now exists to contribute their own poetry; to write a poetic tribute on the passing of a great historical figure. Sorrow, Gratitude, Appreciation, Love, Respect… You don’t need to be a poet laureate to take part – and it’s not a competition. It’s about personal responses. What did Nelson Mandela mean to you? How did his message affect the world? What do you feel on learning of his death? What are your personal memories and reflections? Did he inspire you? Maybe you took part, in any small way, to help end apartheid. Or you played an important role… How do you think his legacy will endure?
Nelson Mandela was a global figure who brought a message of reconciliation rather than retribution, despite his own suffering and the nature of the apartheid regime which he’d opposed. It was this that made Nelson Mandela a true inspiration to millions around the world, a man who was prepared to lay down his own life to affect the change needed to rectify the glaring abomination of apartheid.
As the world reacts, we are glad to be able to provide a fitting international tribute in poetry to Nelson Mandela: Madiba, Tata.