Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tata Madiba!

Published Poetry in the Park No.3 Spring 2015.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918 - 2013
With a special thanks to Thandiwe who spoke from her soul, without prompting, of her love for her 'Grandaddy Mandela' at a recent end-of-year Party in Dublin, with ARN. Thank you Thandiwe, and apologies for taking some of your words . . . but that it is what we poets do . . .Niall

Tata Madiba!
How can I call you, my father, a terrorist,
even though you chose terror to first show our enemies
the error of their ways?
You chose peace, when their eyes had been opened.

I am of the time of apartheid,
a time when I walked always with one eye open,
even when I slept,
a time when it was an aggression for a person
to look up,
a time when coming from school, I was told
if I saw a policeman –a protector–
I should straight away run to the first door I see
and run into that house, and straight to the bedroom
and there to put on any dress I could find
and go, and start to wash the dishes.
I am of that time
when all that would have been mine
was a job in white man’s house
where I could clean his house and his dogs,
and travel home each night
so his children and skinny wife could remain clean.

Mandela came!
He is my Daddy!
It is he who set me free
so now I walk this earth with my head held high
and am able to look all of you in the eye.
Mandela the terrorist fought for my freedom.
Mandela the prisoner remained caged when I grew.
Mandela. Free. Brought peace to this land.

Do not ask me to condemn my deliverance,
and certainly do not ask me to make the decision
when is it best to be a terrorist,
and when is it best to hold out the hand of peace?

I am but a simple person
and leave such decisions to the great and the brave.

©Niall OConnor 2013


  1. Siddartha Beth PierceDecember 14, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    With much respect mon ami!

  2. Nicely told, Niall. Well done!

  3. I have a great respect for this poet - Niall OConnor, read his poem and I believe you will know why.

    Delaina Miller

  4. Thank you Niall, for sharing this poem. I was fortunate to be there that evening, have the pleasure of getting to know your poetry and that of our Persian friend, also to feel the power and emotions in Thandiwe's spontaneous address! Rita

  5. Such truth, a lovely write. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I didn't see this until now Niall . Excellent piece -Dilemma well caught - and well resolved.


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