- "Thought for today:
"I write today's thought with a heavy heart and a sadness I have not felt since the death of my beloved parents. It is about one of the greatest men in my lifetime who I once spoke with but never met. His name was Nelson Mandela and he died yesterday aged 95 years. Since his release from his prison cell on Robben Island, he became the first President of a free South Africa and spent the remainder of his life becoming the parent of all manner of world causes; the greatest of all being the finest ambassador for peace and reconciliation between all nations.
The first and only political demonstration I ever involved myself in was a protest march through the streets of Bradford in 1966 to free Nelson Mandela.
In the year 1999, I wrote a book about the emergence of the new South Africa from the Africa of old, thousandss of years earlier. The story was entitled, 'The Valley of the Two Tall Oaks.' At the turn of the New Millenium, I got a telephone call at my home. The call was a three-way communication and had been relayed through the British Foreign Office. I could hardly believe my ears when a gently-spoken man at the other end told me that 'Number 10' had sent him a copy of my book containing the African story along with an Indian story; both of which had been published in my book entitled, 'Two Worlds-One Heart.' The man described my stories about Africa and India as being 'wonderful stories.'
Although the phone call lasted a few minutes only, the mere fact that a man of such global stature had bothered to phone a relative nobody in West Yorkshire to compliment him on a story he'd written about South Africa said more about the humility and generosity of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela than anything else I can think of. He will be greatly missed by all, particularly by his family and the African people. The world was truly blessed by his inestimatable wisdom and worth.
To the Africans, close friends and family he was called Tata Madiba. Madiba is the name of a clan of which Mr Mandela was a member. In African culture, the clan name is more important than a surname as it refers to the ancestor from which the person is descended. Madiba was the name of a Thembu chief who ruled in the Transkel in the 18th century. Chief after chief passed the baton of leadership on to the next generation of tribal leader until it was eventually handed to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who went on to become the first black President of South Africa in 1994.
Upon receiving Mr Mandela's praise for my book, the Jamacians, who idolised Madiba, used the African story I'd written alongside a Jamacian story that the Custos (Mayor) of Falmouth, Trelawney invited me to write. I am pleased to say that both of these stories became a part of the accepted reading curriculum during 2002 in all 32 Falmouth schools and this project led to a transatlantic pen-pal pairing of pupils in every Falmouth school with 32 Yorkshire schools which was approved and endorsed by the Minister for Education and Culture in Jamacia.
Rest in peace, Tata Madiba. " William Forde : December 6th, 2013.