Nelson Mandela tells a story of a hope inspiring visit he had with his daughter while in Robben Island prison. The visit occurred shortly after his daughter Zeni had married into the Swazi royal family to the prince Thumbumuzi.
Once married to a member of the Swazi royal family, it gave Zeni diplomatic privileges and allowed her to visit her father any time she wanted. It also gave her, her husband and newborn daughter the ability to meet with Mandela in an open room free of thick walls and glass.
Here is Nelson Mandela telling the story of their meeting.
I waited for them with some nervousness. It was a truly wondrous moment when they came into the room. I stood up, and when Zeni saw me, she practically tossed her tiny daughter to her husband and ran across the room to embrace me. I had not held my now-grown daughter virtually since she was about her own daughter’s age.
It was a dizzying experience, as though time had sped forward in a science fiction novel, to suddenly hug one’s fully grown child. I then embraced my new son and he handed me my tiny granddaughter whom I did not let go of for the entire visit. To hold a newborn baby, so vulnerable and soft in my rough hands, hands that for too long had held only picks and shovels, was a profound joy. I don’t think a man was ever happier to hold a baby than I was that day.
The visit had a more official purpose and that was for me to choose a name for the child. It is a custom for the grandfather to select a name, and the one I had chosen was Zaziwe—which means “Hope.”
The name had special meaning for me, for during all my years in prison hope never left me—and now it never would. I was convinced that this child would be a part of a new generation of South Africans for whom apartheid would be a distant memory—that was my dream. (Long Walk to Freedom, Kindle Loc. 8927-8928)
When I think of Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom and how he persevered in the pursuit of his dream, there were days when he struggled to maintain hope. He never gave up the fight and eventually led his country to freedom and into a new beginning.
As I think about my own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional struggle to navigate the ongoing repairs and recovery I continue to face, I am challenged to stay hopeful. To keep my eyes on the climb and to live daily with a sense of purpose and deeper meaning.
How we spend our days is, of course,
how we spend our lives. (Annie Dillard)
May we spend our days with bright hope and the way we want to spend our lives!
What inspires you to keep hope alive in your life?
What about Mandela’s story encourages you today?
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