Nelson Mandela was born to be a hereditary leader within the Xhosa people. His birth name, Rolihlahla, given to him by his father, means "troublemaker." On his first day of school, however, his teacher named him, Nelson, which was the custom at that time of colonization. The honorific Madiba comes from his clan; it is a sign of respect as well as affection. Tata means "father." For many around the world, Mandela is a father figure. Khulu means "grandfather" or "Great One." This was the name most often heard used in his later years. Truly, Madiba has lived up to his heritage!
I first learned of Nelson Mandela as a young woman. The struggles against apartheid were, for me, the struggles of all people. Madiba taught me that, "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of." So, armed with that vision and the call of other great souls to work for the peace of all, I began my journey into adulthood along the road called Peace.
With Madiba's death comes an awesome responsibility for us all. We must not let his work stop. We must remember what he told us - "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." We must continue to follow his example, his Light, even though it may seem dim at this moment because our grief has clouded the brightness.
I pray that as the years go by, the vision of Forgiveness, Compassion for all, and Peace that was so much a part of every atom that comprised the man we called Mandela, will grow to encompass the entire planet, sending waves of Hope and Love throughout the universe.
Rest in peace, dear Khulu. We will carry your idea, your vision, like the young page, Tom in The Once and Future King did for King Arthur, who said, "Thomas...I have carried (the candle) for many years with a hand to shield it from the wind. It has flickered often. I am giving you the candle now - you won't let it out?" To which we answer with all our hearts, "It WILL burn."