On the Banks of the River Mbashe

Autumn Rose


No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 
 Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

The Mbashe flows in a south-eastern direction from its source, Drakensberg, NE of Elliot, Eastern Cape of South Africa through an estuary by the lighthouse at Bashee, to its mouth, the Indian Ocean.   With a basin area of 6,030 km², its tributaries are the Xuka, Mgwali, Dutywa and the Mnyolo rivers.  On the banks of the Mbashe, the small village of Mvezo recorded the birth of a boy on July 18, 1918.  He was named Rolihlahla Mandela.    In the Xhosa language, Rolihlahla means “pulling the branch of a tree,” or “troublemaker.” Whether or not this was a foreshadowing of what his destiny would be, Nelson Mandela changed the way the world fought against social injustice. Facing insurmountable odds, he walked the long and difficult road to freedom – not only for his people, but for all who yearn for peaceful and fair-minded solutions.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires” 
 Nelson Mandela

Today, twenty-two kilometres away from his birthplace, Nelson Mandela came home to Qunu, the place he grew up and remembered as his happiest moments.  Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” 

Nelson Mandela has been laid to rest.  Even so, his voice, like the River Mbashe, continues to flow and nourish. We will carry on with his work, inspired by his life and vision.

Tread softly,
Brathe peacefully,
Laugh hysterically.”

Nelson Mandela (July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

35 thoughts on “On the Banks of the River Mbashe

  1. I find myself of two minds with this man. Earlier on, he was a terrorist and aligned with men who did some horrible things. Later he was a peace maker. Perhaps the greatest part of his story is his transition from the sword to the plow.

    I may have mentioned, I first head of him when I read a book, ” The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist” by Breyten Breytenbach. I recall it from reading it as a teen, but it tells some of the horror that men like Mandela had to over-come.


    1. I agree wholeheartedly with your words…“Perhaps the greatest part of his story is his transition from the sword to the plow.” Thank you for recommending “The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist.” I just added it to my Amazon.ca wishlist! A couple of years ago I read Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years by David James Smith, which chronicles Nelson Mandela’s life from his birth to the Rivonia Trial of 1963 – 1964. To understand Nelson Mandela’s transformation, I needed to go back…



    1. Thank you, LaVagabonde! This past week I have been especially thinking on the definition of freedom. Is it an act? A feeling? An intellectual pursuit? And how do we recognize the reality within the context of a perilously divided world. Much to consider!

      “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela


    1. I have never had the privilege of travelling to South Africa, but I have heard that it is a country of great beauty. Nelson Mandela once said, “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” He lived his life with that hope in mind.

      I have something especially for you!


  2. What an unusual background and so many difficulties in his live. But. he overcame those extremely hard times and learned the meaning of love in difficult places. What a model for us!


    1. Indeed he was. From what I have read, he admits he was not a model of perfection; rather he was more of a “work in progress.” And he made great progress; in doing so he inspired many.

      “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” Nelson Mandela


  3. I wonder about the quote that no one is born hating. I think I read somewhere that babies from a very early age recognize beauty and bad behavior. Also I noticed with my children as toddlers that anyone who looked “different” to them they were afraid of. I believe we can teach people to not be so fearful of one another but I think children bond to the first few people in their lives and feel some sense of insecurity every time they venture into the bigger world (like we all do). Great post!


    1. Thank you for adding to the dialogue! A profound thought that needs closer consideration! Fear is a powerful influence, especially in the early stages of life, on how we learn to view the world and all of its inhabitants. I have always appreciated Sir Ken Robinson’s thoughts on education.

      “You cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do is like a farmer create the conditions under which it will begin to flourish.” Ken Robinson


  4. From the shadow to the light. The journey we’re all on, and he made it out to shine a very bright light on so many of us left behind. This referring to your post and the comments above. Without shadow how do we recognize light? Beautiful post, Rebecca. Thank you.


    1. Beautifully said, my dear friend. We cannot avoid shadows for they are a part of the human experience. But, let us keep our heads pointing towards the sun….as we move forward!

      “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” Nelson Mandela,


    1. Thank you for your comments! Africa is complex and I do not fully understand the intricacies of the politics. Perhaps what I appreciate the most is the universal truths that came from Nelson Mandela’s personal transformation over a lifetime.

      “If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.” Nelson Mandela


  5. Great piece, thank you Rebecca..
    I understood that Mandela finally opted for violence because they could see no other way of countering the endless and brutal violence of Apartheid – strange that the followers of Apartheid were never called terrorists, and yet they caused terror for years amongst all black people..
    Mugabe – in his days as a freedom fighter, they were allies. When Migabe became a dictator, Mandela was hobbled by his loyalty to a former ally… he always seemed to choose loyalty over judgement when pushed into a corner. over his former friends. I actually find it an very endearing trait…


    1. Oh, how well said, Valerie. I find that we measure people by universal themes, forgetting that they have human frailties. As for definitions – that is indeed complex, for they change over time. OR – maybe we create the complexity. If we viewed a situation with the eyes of compassion, perhaps we would have more clarity and understanding. Thank you so much for adding depth to the dialogue.

      “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Plato


  6. A perfect tribute to a man that will be greatly missed I’m sure! 🙂 That quote has been following me around the internet for weeks – but so good, and so true! 🙂 I saw a quote last week that said “We learn to hate, but we are born to love” But I have to disagree with that one! I think Mr Mandela was correct in saying we can be taught to love. I’m sure we are all born to some extent a blank canvas when it comes to emotions, and we learn it all, the good and the bad. But it seems, to hate is easier than to love for a lot people. Strange that, because we need it so much, and yet love is not loved!

    I hope your Christmas and New Year is peaceful and bright Rebecca – looking forward to 2014 blogging!! 😀


    1. Thank you so much for adding to this conversation. I have been thinking a lot about that quote too, this past week. People who were kind to me, showed me that kindness was life-affirming. Kindness leads to more kindness. Just a couple of days ago I found this thought for Christmas, which goes along with your comments.

      Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance.
      To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
      Oren Arnold.

      I am looking forward to the blogging adventures that are waiting for us in 2014. All the very best of the holiday season to you and yours…


    1. I am honoured by your nomination. Thank you! I am so very glad that we are connected – that is the best award of all! Looking forward to the blogging adventures 2014! 🙂


    1. Love and peace coming back to you over the cables! Looking forward to our continued journey, my dear friend!!! I was thinking about the New Year and came across this thought from Alfred Tennyson that I know you will appreciate:

      Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
      Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”


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