Re "Anti-apartheid icon reconciled a nation," Obituary, Dec. 6
Hearing of Nelson Mandela's death and the sensation surrounding the passing of a major global statesman, I could just imagine him in jail all those years — celebrating so many birthdays behind bars and thinking he would probably die there.
If somebody had told him that his life would continue for a long time in a very beautiful way, that he would be released from prison and die at the age of 95 as one of the most beloved and famous politicians in the world, having served as the first president of a new South Africa, he might have found it impossible.
And yet it became his truth.
The legal system that mandated racial discrimination in South Africa was as grotesque a social system as its name was unpronounceable to the English-speaking tongue. Like many, I pronounced it "a-parth-ide."
One day some 30 years ago, a white woman from South Africa studying at UCLA corrected me. She said: "No, it is pronounced 'a-par-tate'; it rhymes with hate."
From then on it was easy to remember — but hard to contemplate.
They say we have lost a great man, a transformative figure. No, we have not lost Mandela. "Lost" implies we cannot find him. In fact, we know exactly where he is: He remains with us, at home, in our hearts.