This is one of the most inspiring artworks of recent memory in South Africa. It gripped me the first time I saw photographs of it. I just had to visit it when I realised it is just outside Howick in KwaZulu-Natal, where I spent one night on our travels. I met Nelson Mandela five times, and he will always be unique among the many very special people from around the world I have been privileged to meet.
What makes this photo special is the way Beezus reacted. There is quite a walk from the car park — not a Long Walk by any means, but enough to make one think about the Long walk to Freedom.
Beezus wasn’t on his leash, and seemed to sense the gravitas of the place. He walked up to the inscription, as though looking at it, and then took a few steps back… and just sat there, looking at the artwork. For maybe 15 minutes while I reflected too…
On how different South Africa would be with a Mandela still at the helm: Xenophobia would be nipped in the bud before it became angry. A proper discourse on statues would take place before chaotic elements had their way. Mandela was a Statesman… his successors are nobodies, less than nobodies… At least we experienced a Statesman, and can hold every future leader up to that benchmark.
What made this visit special was the walk back. There’s a hoarding around new buildings underway which carries stories about what’s being built, and a photo of Madiba. Beezus walked past these and then stopped… and looked back at Madiba’s photo… gave a yap and then continued on his way. He knew what this was about, and that places him ahead of most of humanity.
Travels with Beezus is the successor to Travels with Akela (the wolf who died in 2012), which was inspired by John Steinbeck’s literary classic: Travels with Charley — in search of America. Steinbeck was saddened by what he found in the USA, as have I in SA. Government is failing us, increasingly, day by day.
This post marks the end of the travels for now, and I must catch up on the stories waiting to be published from this trip. Follow CapeInfo on Facebook to see all of them.