Friday, December 06, 2013
"...But Gregory escorted her around the door and before either of us knew it, we were in the same room and in each other's arms. I kissed and held my wife for the first time in all these many years. It was a moment I had dreamed about a thousand times. It was as I were still dreaming. I held her to me for what seemed like an eternity. We were still an silent except for the sound of our hearts. I did not want to let go of her at all, but I broke free and embraced my daughter and then took her child into my lap. It had been twenty-one years since I had even touched my wife's hand."
I was was about 26 when I read A Long Walk to Freedom. At 26 I could not begin to imagine being deprived of human touch and tenderness for 21 years. I think the simplicity with which he wrote that phrase blew me away and it was the first line I remembered nearly twenty years on when news of his death broke last night.
Over and above that, I don't think there's much I can humbly add to what has already been said today, except to mention my pride as a Glaswegian in the little part we played, renaming the address of the South African consulate to Nelson Mandela Place, long before that was the accepted thing to do, our awarding him the Freedom of our city and my own university's election of his then wife as rector, to put pressure on their regime.