‘Now my stories are not the stories that you’ll hear on the news, and while it’s true that Africa is a harsh place, I also know it to be a place where people, animals and ecosystems teach us about a more interconnected world.
When I was nine years old, President Mandela came to stay with my family. He had just been released from his 27 years of incarceration, and was in a period of readjustment to his sudden global icon status. Members of the African National Congress thought that in the bush he would have time to rest and recuperate away from the public eye, and it’s true that lions tend to be a very good deterrent to press and paparazzi.
But it was a defining time for me as a young boy. I would take him breakfast in bed, and then, in an old track suit and slippers, he would go for a walk around the garden. At night, I would sit with my family around the snowy, bunny-eared TV, and watch images of that same quiet man from the garden surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people as scenes from his release were broadcast nightly. He was bringing peace to a divided and violent South Africa, one man with an unbelievable sense of his humanity.
Mandela said often that the gift of prison was the ability to go within and to think, to create in himself the things he most wanted for South Africa: peace, reconciliation, harmony. Through this act of immense open-heartedness, he was to become the embodiment of what in South Africa we call “ubuntu”. Ubuntu: I am because of you. Or, people are not people without other people. It’s not a new idea or value but it’s one that I certainly think at these times is worth building on.’ – Boyd Varty.
(To turn the subtitles on, press play then move your cursor over the screen and click on the drop down which says ‘8 languages’ and choose English.)