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Arise Mandiba. Arise And Denote Yourself.

From the flat summit of Hoerikwaggo,
it’s easy to spot tiny Robben Island; shimmering
like banished pancake batter on cold blue waters.
A scant 3.3 km long and only 1.9 km wide,
the Dutch colonialists were the first to use the
island’s landmass as a prison back in the mid-17th century.
The first tribal leader to be incarcerated there was
a local Khoikhoi interpreter, to whom the Dutchmen
bestowed the nickname “Harry The Beachcomber”.
Imprisoned for stealing small amounts of tobacco and alcohol,
“Harry” eventually escaped using a small wooden rowing boat.
But other tribal leaders have not always been so fortunate.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years
of forced bondage, marooned upon Robben’s hard rock.
As a category D prisoner, Mandela was allowed
one visitor and one single letter every 6 months.
As a category D prisoner, he was forced to quarry
more than his fair share of limestone during that time.
Looking down upon that tiny island
from the flat summit of Hoerikwaggo,
I can’t help but think about what Mandela’s view
must have looked like from the opposite direction.
Did the sight of the Almighty Mountain intimidate? Or did it inspire?
To the colonizing trading power, he was a disbeliever and a terrorist.
But here was a man prepared to die in order to uphold
his inalienable right to be a human-being upon this Earth.
A man prepared to walk the long way round to freedom.
Upon water. Upon air. A man who became a giant.
A giant who became a Sky God.