As the world grieved the loss of its favourite person, I made a conscious decision that I will tell Ladybug everything this man did for HER, forget about what he did for me, or our country, but what he did for her. As you do when someone passes away, you think back about the impact they had in your life, the imprints they have left and how they shaped your life, your future and ultimately who you are – and for me it was no different when Nelson Mandela passed away.
Now I will be honest, I don’t remember apartheid, I don’t remember the impact it had, what life was like during that time. I have always played with black children; I played with Justina’s daughter while I was growing up. My Grandfather is fluent in Zulu and he taught us kids that you respect human beings, doesn’t matter if they pink, purple, black or even green. I thank my Parents and Grandparents for this way of bringing us up with this mentality. The first time I had any person of colour in my school class was when I was in Standard 3 (Grade 5) and to me he was just a boy, he wasn’t black he was just a regular boy.
Ladybug hasn’t got a cooking clue what life was or will be like without being part of a rainbow nation. Nelson Mandela made it possible for her to have the friends she does. Her friends at school (the ones she asks for CONSTANTLY over weekends) are Langa, Thato, Momo, Lucy, Nathi and just to add some colour in there, Elisha. She has 1 white friend… Elisha (who unfortunately has moved to the Free State).
I have spoken to Ladybug about Nelson Mandela, I have told her about the remarkable man he was, what he did for her – I know she doesn’t fully comprehend everything at the moment, but she does understand. I took her to Houghton when Nonny and I went to pay our respects and this little person made me cry. She placed a rose down and as she stood up she said “Bye Bye”. I still get choked up when I think about her gesture. Of ALL the photos of Ladybug in her lifetime, this one has to be one of my favourites; its powerful, emotional and thought provoking. She makes me proud to be her Mom.
On Sunday, we watched the funeral and in true toddler style Ladybug was pointing to the coffin and asking “Who’s that?” or “Who’s this?” (the WHOLE time) and by the end of the funeral she was saying “Nelshom Itsabella” for Nelson Mandela and when you asked her to say Madiba she would reply by saying “Nelshom Itsabella” (I think she thinks the South African Flag is also called Nelson Mandela, but I will correct that in time).