The Rev. Lester V. Mackenzie, a native South African, has written a lovely meditation on Nelson Mandela for the House of Deputies site. Mackenzie, a priest at St. Matthew’s in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a clergy deputy from the Diocese of Los Angeles, is a third generation priest whose grandfather was a bishop in the South Africa in the 1990s.
Sawubona, Yebho. This is a salutation you would hear if you were to travel to Johannesburg and Cape Town, the cities where my family live and where I was born and raised. The Zulu greeting, “Sawubona” means “I see you” and the response “Ngikhona” means “I am here.” As always, when translating from one language to another, crucial subtleties are lost. Inherent in the Zulu greeting and our grateful response is the sense that until you saw me, I didn’t exist. By recognizing me, you brought me into existence. Sawubona (“We see you”) is an invitation to a deep witnessing and presence. At its deepest level this “seeing” is essential to human freedom, and at the heart of freedom for South Africans was Madiba.
Read it all.