Posts tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

December 6, 2013

My “Personal” Relationship With Mandela

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

mandelaDid I ever meet Nelson Mandela? No sadly but have been close to and spent time with others who have … and I have, like my own late Father, been involved in the struggle against apartheid. This essay might seem egocentric as it is more my story then a tribute to this great man. Not at all I assure you – the truth is most will be writing obituary type biographies to honor Nelson Mandela and as such I decided to tell my REAL life part in that which meant so much to this great individual. I hope that my readers will find it both interesting and an informative tutorial – me, a nice Jewish woman from Philadelphia, being in a very tangible way part and parcel of a special man’s life.

In previous blog essays I have written about my late Father’s social and political activism – so it was too with the struggle against apartheid. As such my parents participated in letter writing, meetings, aide and divesting themselves of any investments they might have unsuspectedly held from South Africa in protest. I as their daughter therefore was no stranger to the battle and as a family knew many personally and about more Jewish South Africans fighting with life and limb to defeat this horror. As a young married woman I turned down on account of a busy schedule joining a favorite doctor Great Uncle and Aunt one snowy evening for a coffee visit with a Jewish physician couple that had been forced to leave that troubled nation due to their own involvement in the anti-apartheid movement. Made more poignant is that there was an accident that evening which killed my Aunt instantly and gravely injured my Uncle, of which he succumb to a few months later.

In 1982 my dear late father-in-law, Colonel Harold [my first marriage; I was widowed in 2000] had asked if David and I would join him and my mother-in-law at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in 1982. Allow me to explain that my in-law family were WASP – Conservatives in the old fashion sense of that word but while not as active as my own parents on social issues, still concerned about human rights around the world. The Colonel was involved with the Pentagon, taught at Oxford in England [where my first husband and his sister grew up] and I am proud to say is a ranked senior tennis player in the Newport, Rhode Island Hall of Fame. What do all these lovely facts have to do with Nelson Mandela you must be thinking? Well it is simply to suggest that these fine people were not deeply thrilled that their daughter-in-law (me) had decided to attend a anti-apartheid demonstration at the D.C. South African Embassy prior to happily joining them at the Vietnam Memorial event. So you see front and center was I in my own small way concerning that which Mandela gave his all for.

My other shall we say rather brazen – actually REALLY brazen personal Mandela event came when my first husband and I attended an IBM dinner [his employer] where high up executives were present. As it so happened this particular dinner conveniently took place exactly when news coverage was plentiful concerning United States corporations, including IBM being guilty or at least less than stellar in fighting the apartheid government in South Africa. Bet you can guess what happened over cocktails – yes I did bring the issue up and everyone was gracious, the chat was interesting and I remained a lady throughout the whole time. Next day my husband told me the the gentleman I confronted actually were impressed – thought I was “feisty“. In all fairness and for full disclosure, I need to state the IBM did eventually do the right thing by turning over operations of various offices and production facilities to black South African business men and women.

All this an important part of my REALLY varied and interesting life. Still the fact that as a Jew seeing the great Mandela meet and embrace Yasser Arafat, a sworn enemy of Israel was hurtful to say the least. Especially when one realizes that the extremist white South Africans  that Mandela fought against were admitted Nazis sympathizers. However, one must consider the totality of any man or woman’s life and so today I write with love, honor and respect of this individual who changed the world and from who much can be learned by all people. Nelson Mandela often said he was no G-d, not perfect and only a man … not nearly true – he was special and unique and the world is better for having known him. May Nelson Mandela be granted eternal peace  – the same which he fought so hard to bring his people and the entire world!!!

P.S. In my year end (2013) book, Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life! and the more detailed Summer 2014 Life Journey of Heiress Mommy much will be explained about how my life became so REALLY full and rich. My hope and pray is that all who read these books will be inspired to seek all possible – go for it as the saying goes. Who knows? Maybe you can change the world or at least make waves like I have!!!

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March 30, 2013

From Prisoner of State to Head of State!

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

SuuKyiWomen leaders are not spared from the wrath of the State imposed imprisonment – my hero, Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest in her country. Almost an accidental political operative – there by choice buy equally happenstance – this brave woman was both championed and at times reviled by her countryman. Courage a constant companion as she choose to be at risk and away from her family safely living abroad. Risking life and fortune not singular to males who decide to brave the “slings and arrows” of opposition to their causes. The difference I am often offended by is that the world ask how could a woman give up the security of a husband and children to put life and limb at risk for a bigger issue?  Why indeed would anyone – man or woman is my retort. Seeing as those one is seeking to protect and elevate are far too frequently those determined to destroy a leader such as Aung San Suu Kyi. Many in her nation of Burma have been critical of this woman’s decisions – her every move, her loyalties and ideals questioned by her nemesis.  Surely some criticism is legitimate but does not the singularly bravery and devotion of her elk deserve at least gracious consideration and respect despite an opposite view being held by others. To use the vernacular – this type of almost after thought of a mostly championed leader is REALLY a case of “you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t“.  May I suggest – trust me I know personally this to be true – that is a lesson to be well learned by us all, for is not often the same persons we defend, those who turn their backs and even reproach those of us having been their protectors. Certainly worth remembering this thought and with that precedence in mind, choosing to forge ahead only if for the purest of reasons – no dependency on glory from others should motivate martyrdom as that will surely lead to REAL imprisonment of spirit and mind.

I remember being uncharacteristically glued to the television screen while watching Nelson Mandela leave prison after 27 years in 1990 – great apologetic fanfare accompanied his release from captive South African apartheid. Amazing I thought – such grace and dignity. No, never would that would be my demeanor I instantly knew to be true  –  I could not display so much largess in the face of my lessors; those who had so degraded this great man, now at his side with deference was repugnant in my mind. And yet, Mandela’s sweet smile was tinged with a knowing that he had REALLY been the triumphalist in the world’s and G-d’s eye. Self satisfaction was my personal feeling that day – my parents even though not alive to see this great man’s freedom achieved, campaigned against and contributed toward defeating South Africa’s Apartheid system. I joined them and in fact protested outside  the D.C. South African embassy more than once. Too many arguments to recall were in my past concerning the horrors and injustice that defined that country for far too many years … my late husband [widowed in 2001] David cringed as I was reproachful at a cocktail party for IBM executives as to why their firm was still dealing/having a presence in South Africa despite others not doing the same in order to help end apartheid.

Not all leaders of nations once nor eventually imprisoned by the nations they have or go on to lead are as glorious a person as Nelson Mandela. Of course, that denotation is oft times REALLY “in the eye of the beholder” or some might say in the heart of ones syncopation group.  Napoleon Bonaparte is just such a fellow … leader and some believed savior of France was defeated and imprisoned only to escape and reign again. Surely there are still those in France who think this diminutive leader a hero and others not so much … guess it REALLY does depend on which side of those barricades your ancestors were during that French revolution.  Still one must acknowledge the strength and shear will a man like this must have had in order to persevere against the State operation that took him captive and imprisoned him. The analysis begs us to understand why some can and others can not overcome such extreme circumstances. I have traveled to France more than once and admit to having at times fallen victim to the romanticism of Bonaparte – many places remain to honor this general and evidence of his good deeds can not be denied in that nation.

My personal dictate is that REAL faith, REAL family, friends and devoted colleagues … an intrinsic knowing of ones worth is paramount to REAL freedom and these leaders I have referenced here, as well as many others, must have had that sense of destiny that only REAL self awareness provides. I promise that all the REAL and very detailed facts as to my own such journey toward what my dear husband says brands me Tereza Triumphant™ will be shared in my memoir, Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life!. As I have insisted to my co-writer, publisher and publicist – this book will not only tell my REAL story but must be a teaching tale for other REALLY good people. No matter if one is Head of State or CEO or other leadership role and no matter whether at home or in a public position – even those choosing a path unorthodox – none should be imprisoned by others evil misconceptions nor selfish motives and definitely never on account of another’s feelings of inadequacy as they will want to lessen you in order to feel better about themselves.. All who lead in whatever capacity must not fall victim to The Miscreants™ !!!

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