David Hannaford on Nelson Mandela’s Prison Window and the World’s Quarantine

Imagine being in a small prison cell with only one window for 27 years. Then restricted to a single visitor each year and only permitted to write a one-page letter every six months. Cold, dark, and lonely with nothing to do except sit and think. This was the reality for Nelson Mandela. He was to be South Africa’s future President and one of the world’s most inspiring leaders, yet he had been formed in the pain of apartheid and, day after day, faced a seemingly endless lock down.

Mandela used his time to envision a different and reborn South Africa. He embraced the tree of hope for a better world where people respected one another and strove for unity; a brotherhood of man. His famous cell window provided him with an eye to the world, even though having such a limited view, he could appreciate what he once took as trivial – the simplest amenities; a walk in the park, the breath of a cool breeze, a sun-kissed landscape; All this was an integral part of his pursuit of freedom for his people. For this inspirational man, that small window was a place to enlarge his vision for the day he would emerge from captivity. He later penned in his memoirs his reflections on life and liberty, on love and a longing for fellowship.

I am an Australian writing from the United States, now in our 45th day of lockdown. This has been absolutely nothing in comparison to what Mr. Mandela must have endured. Yet, in this shadow of his reality, I have learned so much, had much to reflect upon and appreciated every minute of my captivity.

I too have a window, a very small portal in my bathroom where every day during the pandemic I look outside. The fear and panic at times have been palpable. It has been tragic to hear of the loss of life, economies in turmoil and nations shaking.

However, I am not writing about the present, but the future — one where hope and lives are reborn.

Mr. Mandela envisioned his presidency from his window. His limited physical view of nothing notable or impressive faded away into his unparalleled vision of a future of possibilities.

Many dreams are birthed in places of solitude and obscurity. When distraction is taken away, we have time to focus on what is really important. Imagine what it felt like to simply shake someone’s hand, to see them smile or even hear them speak?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Hannaford