Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Memorial for Mandela

His Day is Done by Maya Angelou
Reviewed by Diane K. M.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is a moving tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died in December 2013. Maya Angelou wrote a loving poem about Mandela's grace and his influence in the world. The book includes several sepia-toned photographs of Mandela throughout his life, and it makes a beautiful 44-page memorial. 

"His day is done, 
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind
Reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela's day is done.

The news, expected and still unwelcome,
Reached us in the United States and suddenly
Our world became somber.
Our skies were leadened.
His day is done.

We see you, South African people,
Standing speechless at the slamming 
Of that final door
Through which no traveler returns."

When Mandela was released from prison, Angelou writes that the world was watching "as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison doors." 

"His stupendous heart intact,
His gargantuan will
Hale and hearty.
He had not been crippled by brutes
Nor was his passion for the rights 
Of human beings
Diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

Even here in America
We felt the cool
Refreshing breeze of freedom
When Nelson Mandela took
The seat of the presidency
In his country
Where formerly he was not even allowed to vote."

My favorite section of the poem is near the end, featuring a photograph of Mandela smiling, and the lines:

"We will not forget you.
We will not dishonor you.
We will remember and be glad
That you lived among us."

The poem and photographs are a lovely tribute, but I think the book would have been improved if it had included a short biography of Mandela. I do plan on reading his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," but I think there was a missed opportunity with Angelou's book in not including a few pages explaining Mandela's extraordinary life.

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