2014 – “Some Things are Right Worthy o’ Thought”

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Bard’s Oration 2014 

Some Things are Right Worthy o’ Thought

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela  

born 18th July 1918

died 5th December 2013

 

 

Some things are right worthy o’ thought,

While others scarce rate a mention,

But of all that the last year’s thrown at us,

There’s one that begged most folk’s attention.

 

There are few individuals in history,

Who tower high; above fellow Man,

But when one of such giant men passes,

We’ve a Duty to tell what they’ve done.

 

Yet here at our village Burns Supper,

Held in memory of Robbie, our Bard,

Himself, a giant of history,

Should this new man earn equal regard?  

 

As members of Burns Clubs all realise,

There are always lines the Bard said,

To assist in our great understanding,

Of the lives that other folk led.

 

So the best way to decide on the merit,

Of raising him to Burns’ high respect,

Is to ask our good Bard what he thinks of,

This new man with plaudits bedecked.

 

Well he was born in the village of Mvezo,

In South Africa’s sunny Cape Province,

His Clan name there was Madiba,

Born to a Life, of Injustice; Intolerance.

 

 His first name was Rolihlahla, 

Which in Scots means, ‘trouble maker’

I suspect that many who’d met with our Bard,

Might have seen just a few traits familiar.

 

Like Robbie he grew up in poverty,

In Qunu, in a small basic Kraal,

Customs, Taboos and Ritual,

He rose above, despite of it all.

 

As his Parents were both illiterate,

They made him work at his education,

His teacher gave him an English first name,

After that, he was known as Nelson.

 

Like Burns as a boy, he worked the land,

Walking the slopes as a shepherd,

Rob would have seen him as farming kin

To be helped, respected and honoured.

 

And here’s a hand Madiba my friend,

And gie’s a hand o thine,

We’ll wander monie a wearie fit,

Afore singing Auld Lang Syne.

 

Like Burns as he grew, he noticed the rights,

And the wrongs of human nature,

But where Burns turned to words, to highlight the faults,

Such freedom was denied to Madiba.

 

   The African regime’s racist machine,

Denied the Black Man his right,

To talk, or write, or demonstrate,

His crime? ….he wasn’t white!

 

What would Robbie have said to the folk,

In charge of that terrible Government,

Verwoerd, Vorster and Botha,

Three of those who managed the Torment.

 

Perhaps your Government’s like a Poppy spread,
You’ve seized the flower so its bloom’s now shed;
and….. like the snow falls in the river,
At the moment it’s WHITE, but it’s going to melt for ever;

 

For Nelson Mandela was proudly Black,

Born into a bigoted Land,

The curse of Apartheid hung o’er him,

His People from most places banned.

 

To be Black in South Africa meant a Black seat,

At the football, on a bus, of No Worth,

Even park benches were different for Blacks,

who were segregated at birth.

 

What would Burns have said to those African Lairds,

Their ribbands, stars an’ a’ that,

Perhaps a man o’ independent mind,

A Black’s a Man for a’ that

 

Yes a Black’s a Man for a’ that,

What’s so difficult to understand?

That Freedom, Rights and Equality,

Should exist throughout that Land.

 

Madiba was driven to Politics,

To reverse what he saw as all wrong,

Throughout the ranks of the ANC,

He rose with their Banners and Song.

 

And who’s going to be the Traitor knave?

And who’s going to fill the coward’s grave?

And who’s sae base as be a slave?

Let him turn and flee

 

For Madiba there was to be no fleeing,

But no violence or threatening behaviour,

Civil disobedience and the power of word,

Enough to be seen as their Saviour.

 

The unrest he started proved such a thorn,

In the side of the Government leader,

To regain some order, they locked him away,

On Robben Island complete with hard labour.

 

For twenty-seven years Mandela was held,

His crime being for wanting equality,

For black sisters and brothers, generations to come,

Relief from their sad lives of poverty.

 

But the fight went on while Madiba was jailed,

International Sanctions and Pressure,

It all piled up on the bigot regime,

From around the world there was Censure.

 

Oh Madiba, in politics if thou wouldst mix,

And mean thy fortunes be,

Bear this in mind, be deaf and blind,

The great folks hear and see.

 

And yes, the great folks heard and saw,

Those years of hardship in prison,

They saw De Klerk, the new Government Leader,

With civil war just o’er the horizon.

 

Now depending who you want to believe,

De Klerk was brave, in fear, or Peacemaker,

He was wise enough to see the way ahead,

Was to release the worthy Black Leader.

 

So Madiba was free, a new era began,

Equality, Freedom, Elections,

Nelson Mandela had risen to the top,

Maintaining his principles and direction.

 

And as he stood proudly, the new Head of State,

Of South Africa, his much loved Homeland

There at his side, standing just as proud,

The white jailor from his lengthy internment.

 

Oh Madiba what was going through your mind;

Your Black brother’s and sister’s liberation,

They’d been bought an’ sold for African gold,

By that parcel of rogues in a nation.

 

But no retribution was his cry,

National Reconciliation,

Free education, water and power,

To be given to the Black population.

 

A million houses were to be built,

Development and Reconstruction,

Shelter for those from the shanty towns,

Who had suffered so much degradation.

 

“A Better Life for all,” was what they chanted,

In Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal,

The saviour had come to lead them all home,

Where the Black Man could stand proud and tall.

 

But, sadly it seems, as Madiba grew old,

And those in support took a hand,

Their ethics and methods didn’t match up

To their Leader’s high principled stand.

 

Oh Madiba ! mankind are unco weak,

An’ little to be trusted;

If self, the wavering balance shake,

It’s rarely right adjusted

 

And as time marched on and their influence grew,

No signs of the promised improvements,

No water or houses for those on the streets,

To the Soweto folk it was evident,

 

Their new leaders who promised everything and more,

Were greedily lining their pockets,

With Villas and Pools and the trappings of wealth,

Jewellery, cars, foreign junkets.

 

Then ……. On 5th December last year,

Old Madiba finally parted,

His beloved Africa cried and wailed,

For their ‘father’ and his values so sacred.

 

Madiba, I’ve seen yon weary winter-sun

Twice forty times return;

And every time has added proofs,

That Man was made to mourn.

 

And now that he’s gone to that far better place,

Where Black Man and White are all equal,

Oh Madiba what have you left behind,

In-fighting, corruption, betrayal.

 

And now that he’s gone to that far better place,

South Africa’s rock-like foundation,

Will not be there to keep them apart,

Tribal differences, greed and damnation.

 

And now that he’s gone to that far better place,

And we sit here at Let it Blaw,

What would Robert Burns have made of the life,

O’ his Cronie, Nelson Mandela?

 

I suspect, when they met, Rob would have been proud,

To call Madiba his brother,

Both in belief of fairness and right,

Arm in Arm around each other,

 

And what would Robbie have said to his friend

Looking down on what he had left ?

“Oh Madiba I’m afraid you did all you could

For your people, for so long oppressed

 

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika

Is what they now join and sing,

Apparently united together

Scarce a thought of what the future might bring

 

Oh Madiba Thou art blest compar’d wi’ me!

The present only toucheth thee

But, Och! I backward cast my e’e on prospects drear!

An’ forward, tho I canna see, I guess an’ fear!

 

Alex J Hood

January 2014