after A. Van Jordan
Mandela (man-del-a). v. [Xhosa org. South Africa.] 1) the action of getting bigger with every year in prison as in, you send us to Robben Island and we will mandela a university behind these walls and yes I can sneak a 800 page memoir out of prison, one toilet paper sheet at a time. 2) to sing the national anthem (Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika) in three languages, as in to mandela a people’s language is to know their culture. 3) to defeat one’s opponent without dishonoring them, as in he mandelas de Klerk all the way to the Nobel Prize. 4) to adorn oneself in father love, as in my son died of AIDS, no shame in the telling. 5) to dance to Hugh Masekela’s solitary trumpet. See also: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Aung San Suu Kyi, Winnifred Mandela. Ant: George Bush, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier.
Published in Harvard Review, 2008