Photo Essays

Pictures & text by Brian Covert

  •  (1) Following the passing of former South African president Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, memorial services were held in cities around the world to commemorate the life of the man South Africans affectionately call

    (1) Following the passing of former South African president Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, memorial services were held in cities around the world to commemorate the life of the man South Africans affectionately call "Madiba".

  •  One such service for Mandela was held in the Japanese city of Osaka on Monday, 23 December 2013 at the Osaka Jonan Christ Church.

    One such service for Mandela was held in the Japanese city of Osaka on Monday, 23 December 2013 at the Osaka Jonan Christ Church.

  •  Event organizer Keiji Shimogaki, head of a local grassroots group, opens the event with words of welcome to the audience.

    Event organizer Keiji Shimogaki, head of a local grassroots group, opens the event with words of welcome to the audience.

  •  The formal service begins with a reading of passages from the Christian Bible by Mitsuo (

    The formal service begins with a reading of passages from the Christian Bible by Mitsuo ("Poundcake") Harada, pastor of the church.

  •  An estimated 100 people, both from the Japanese and foreign-resident communities (including South Africans living in Japan), attended the afternoon event.

    An estimated 100 people, both from the Japanese and foreign-resident communities (including South Africans living in Japan), attended the afternoon event.

  •  Attendees express their final wishes for Mandela in guest books, which are to be given later to the South African ambassador in Tokyo.

    Attendees express their final wishes for Mandela in guest books, which are to be given later to the South African ambassador in Tokyo.

  •  Joseph Nkosi (left), a South African living in Japan, and partner Tomomi Kawabe perform on marimbas as event organizers look on.

    Joseph Nkosi (left), a South African living in Japan, and partner Tomomi Kawabe perform on marimbas as event organizers look on.

  •  Guest speakers included an ex-staffer of the African National Congress (ANC) Tokyo office, Naoko Tsuyama.

    Guest speakers included an ex-staffer of the African National Congress (ANC) Tokyo office, Naoko Tsuyama.

  •  A Japanese choral group performs a few socially conscious songs for the audience during the memorial service for Mandela.

    A Japanese choral group performs a few socially conscious songs for the audience during the memorial service for Mandela.

  •  The choral group members raise their fists in solidarity as they sing.

    The choral group members raise their fists in solidarity as they sing.

  •  Nkosi leads the audience in singing the South African national anthem, which includes the former liberation song

    Nkosi leads the audience in singing the South African national anthem, which includes the former liberation song "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" (God Bless Afrika).

  •  For the grand finale, Nkosi and his partner chant and jam on marimbas, bringing all the church audience members to their feet.

    For the grand finale, Nkosi and his partner chant and jam on marimbas, bringing all the church audience members to their feet.

  •  The celebratory mood rises as the audience members snake their way around the church pews, dancing, clapping and singing along.

    The celebratory mood rises as the audience members snake their way around the church pews, dancing, clapping and singing along.

  •  The service ends on a joyous note several hours after it began, a true tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of  perhaps the greatest statesman of our time.

    The service ends on a joyous note several hours after it began, a true tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of perhaps the greatest statesman of our time.

  •  Nelson Mandela — Tata Madiba. 1918 - 2013

    Nelson Mandela — Tata Madiba. 1918 - 2013

  •  Mother Nature Japan

    (1)「人は互いに話しかける、ペットに話しかける、そして自分自身にも話しかける。だから自然に対して話しかけてもいいじゃないか?」「自然に話しかけるって?でも何を話したらいいんだ?」

  • 「そうだね、最初はこう言うのはどうだろう?母なる大自然よ、毎朝太陽を昇らせ、毎夕沈め、地球上のあらゆる生物に命を与えてくれてありがとう。」

  • 「あるいは、これはどうだろう?母なる大自然よ、私たちが息をのむような、まばゆいばかりの多彩な色をありがとう。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、あなたの中では、小さ過ぎたり、取るに足りないものなど何もない。すべての命が本当に神聖なものだ。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、私たちのために豊かな食べものを与えてくれてありがとう・・・」

  • 「・・・すべての季節に、あらゆる気候の中で、谷でも山でも同じように。」

  • 「母と子・・・壊されることのできない永遠の力。私たち人間は、まるで子ども達が母親を頼りきるのと同じように、すべてのことで自然に頼り過ぎている。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、月を、潮を、命の循環をありがとう。」

  • 気付く、気付かないにかかわらず、私たちは、いつもいろいろな方法で、母なる自然の愛に囲まれ、抱かれている。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、水をありがとう。その穏やかな流れの中で私たちの魂を癒してくれて。」

  • 「自然の中で孤立しているように見えるものは幻想だ。すべてのものは結びついている。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、あなたの簡素な形の中に、最も深い美しさが存在する。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、風をありがとう。私たちが、立ち止まって、そよ風に耳を傾けると、自然が私たちに何かを話しかけているのが聞こえる。」

  • 「命の中で、どの道を進むべきか混乱するのは人間だけである。自然世界の中では、『混乱』など存在しない。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、一年を通して、私たちを健康で、強く、成長させてくれてありがとう。」

  • 「母なる大自然が雲を追い払ってくれる時のみ、私たちが命の絶頂期にいることがわかる。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、命の真の意味は、あなたの姿の中にあるということを、私たちに教えてくれてありがとう。」

  • 「私たちが見ようと目を見開いたなら、自然の中には必ず魔法がある。」

  • 「時には、命の最も難しい質問に対する自然の最も純粋な答えは、私たちの窓のすぐ外に横たわっていることもある。」

  • 「母なる大自然よ、空と私たちが吸い込む空気をありがとう。それがなければ、この命は本当にとても短いものになっただろう。」

  • 「一言で言うなら、母なる大自然の中に、生き物は境などなく隣同士に存在している。生と死、新しいものと古いもの、君と私。わかるだろう?」

  • 「そうだ!やっと何が言いたいかわかった。ありがとう、母なる大自然。ありがとう・・・すべてのものを。」

  •  (1) The flyer announcing the “Nelson Mandela Welcoming Rally of Western Japan” to be held in October 1990, eight months after Mandela's release from 27 years in prison in South Africa.

    (1) The flyer announcing the “Nelson Mandela Welcoming Rally of Western Japan” to be held in October 1990, eight months after Mandela's release from 27 years in prison in South Africa.

  •  A quiet Sunday morning, 28 October 1990: the municipal Osaka Pool at Ogimachi Park in downtown Osaka, site of the rally to welcome Mandela and other special guests to Japan.

    A quiet Sunday morning, 28 October 1990: the municipal Osaka Pool at Ogimachi Park in downtown Osaka, site of the rally to welcome Mandela and other special guests to Japan.

  •  Preparations begin: Crew members of the rally’s organizing team hoist the image of Mandela’s raised fist as part of the stage backdrop for the day’s events.

    Preparations begin: Crew members of the rally’s organizing team hoist the image of Mandela’s raised fist as part of the stage backdrop for the day’s events.

  •  Keiji Shimogaki (center), head of a local anti-apartheid group in Osaka, directing volunteers as the morning pace picks up to meet the rally’s starting time of 12:00 noon.

    Keiji Shimogaki (center), head of a local anti-apartheid group in Osaka, directing volunteers as the morning pace picks up to meet the rally’s starting time of 12:00 noon.

  •  Volunteer organizers near a stage sign for “Amandla,” the South African cultural troupe in exile. Then touring in Japan, Amandla was scheduled to give a special show this day for the rally.

    Volunteer organizers near a stage sign for “Amandla,” the South African cultural troupe in exile. Then touring in Japan, Amandla was scheduled to give a special show this day for the rally.

  •  South African singers of the Amandla cultural ensemble rehearsing their songs on stage, as they look out over the empty seats of the Osaka Pool stadium this morning.

    South African singers of the Amandla cultural ensemble rehearsing their songs on stage, as they look out over the empty seats of the Osaka Pool stadium this morning.

  •  South African musical band members of the Amandla cultural troupe on stage during sound check and rehearsal, as preparations for the rally frantically go on around them.

    South African musical band members of the Amandla cultural troupe on stage during sound check and rehearsal, as preparations for the rally frantically go on around them.

  •  Jazz musician Jonas Gwangwa (center), director of the Amandla troupe, during rehearsal. Like the other performers, Gwangwa was living in exile from his native South Africa.

    Jazz musician Jonas Gwangwa (center), director of the Amandla troupe, during rehearsal. Like the other performers, Gwangwa was living in exile from his native South Africa.

  •  11:30 a.m., a half-hour before starting time: The waiting crowds of Japanese and foreign audience members excitedly start making their way into the Osaka Pool stadium.

    11:30 a.m., a half-hour before starting time: The waiting crowds of Japanese and foreign audience members excitedly start making their way into the Osaka Pool stadium.

  •  Akira Jinno (right), a Kyoto-based anti-apartheid activist, talks over the schedule with a fellow organizer. Jinno will serve as an interpreter for Nelson Mandela at the rally.

    Akira Jinno (right), a Kyoto-based anti-apartheid activist, talks over the schedule with a fellow organizer. Jinno will serve as an interpreter for Nelson Mandela at the rally.

  •  The rally’s opening ceremony is kicked off by a traditional Japanese taiko drum group from the Buraku Liberation League, an organization representing Japan’s caste minority.

    The rally’s opening ceremony is kicked off by a traditional Japanese taiko drum group from the Buraku Liberation League, an organization representing Japan’s caste minority.

  •  Guest of honor: Nelson Mandela, deputy president of the African National Congress, arrives with a 14-member ANC delegation, making his way into the VIP tent at poolside.

    Guest of honor: Nelson Mandela, deputy president of the African National Congress, arrives with a 14-member ANC delegation, making his way into the VIP tent at poolside.

  •  The 72-year-old Mandela watches the stage performances and speakers along with Barbara Masekela, cultural director with the ANC, and other special guests.

    The 72-year-old Mandela watches the stage performances and speakers along with Barbara Masekela, cultural director with the ANC, and other special guests.

  •  Members of Amandla on stage, re-enacting Mandela’s 1964 speech (“I am prepared to die”) to the South African court that sentenced him to life in prison. He was now free after 27 years.

    Members of Amandla on stage, re-enacting Mandela’s 1964 speech (“I am prepared to die”) to the South African court that sentenced him to life in prison. He was now free after 27 years.

  •  Amandla members singing a number during their stage show for the audience. This day was reportedly the first time for many in the troupe to see Nelson Mandela in person.

    Amandla members singing a number during their stage show for the audience. This day was reportedly the first time for many in the troupe to see Nelson Mandela in person.

  •  Members of Amandla performing their hearts out, in what was for them, for Nelson Mandela and for the audience as well a truly magical moment in time.

    Members of Amandla performing their hearts out, in what was for them, for Nelson Mandela and for the audience as well a truly magical moment in time.

  •  Osaka Pool stadium, a venue for swim meets in the city and a traditional place for major political rallies to be held, is packed full with an estimated 20,000 people this day.

    Osaka Pool stadium, a venue for swim meets in the city and a traditional place for major political rallies to be held, is packed full with an estimated 20,000 people this day.

  •  It is a day of high emotion for many in the audience, including Victor, a U.S. resident from New York who was living in Japan. People came from all over Japan to attend.

    It is a day of high emotion for many in the audience, including Victor, a U.S. resident from New York who was living in Japan. People came from all over Japan to attend.

  •  Three Japanese-South African siblings from Japan’s southern island of Kyushu take in the festivities. They had come with their mother Connie, a South African exile living in Japan.

    Three Japanese-South African siblings from Japan’s southern island of Kyushu take in the festivities. They had come with their mother Connie, a South African exile living in Japan.

  •  The mood was one of joyous celebration for many in the audience, as the music played on and the big moment neared for the guest speaker everyone had come to see.

    The mood was one of joyous celebration for many in the audience, as the music played on and the big moment neared for the guest speaker everyone had come to see.

  •  It is finally time for the man himself to speak, and with great whooping and cheering by the South African members of Amandla, Nelson Mandela is jubilantly led to center stage.

    It is finally time for the man himself to speak, and with great whooping and cheering by the South African members of Amandla, Nelson Mandela is jubilantly led to center stage.

  •  The audience at the stadium gives the guest of honor a rousing welcome and standing ovation, as Mandela and members of Amandla wave back to the ecstatic crowd.

    The audience at the stadium gives the guest of honor a rousing welcome and standing ovation, as Mandela and members of Amandla wave back to the ecstatic crowd.

  •  Mandela the symbol and Mandela the man, on the same stage together in Osaka, after many months of arduous planning by local organizers in the Kansai area of Japan.

    Mandela the symbol and Mandela the man, on the same stage together in Osaka, after many months of arduous planning by local organizers in the Kansai area of Japan.

  •  Mandela says he will meet with Japanese leaders in the coming days and “ask the government and business people in this country” for financial support. Seated behind Mandela is Jerry Matsila, the ANC representative in Tokyo.

    Mandela says he will meet with Japanese leaders in the coming days and “ask the government and business people in this country” for financial support. Seated behind Mandela is Jerry Matsila, the ANC representative in Tokyo.

  •  The metal bars of a Japanese stage now having replaced the iron bars of a South African prison, Mandela raises his fist to the audience, as the other ANC delegation members join him.

    The metal bars of a Japanese stage now having replaced the iron bars of a South African prison, Mandela raises his fist to the audience, as the other ANC delegation members join him.

  •  The grand finale: The South African guests join with rally organizers in Japan in singing the anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (God Bless Africa) — a moving end to an unforgettable day.

    The grand finale: The South African guests join with rally organizers in Japan in singing the anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (God Bless Africa) — a moving end to an unforgettable day.

  •  Mandela exits the stage and, walking around the poolside area, waves to the roaring crowd as he leaves the stadium. [AP photo]

    Mandela exits the stage and, walking around the poolside area, waves to the roaring crowd as he leaves the stadium. [AP photo]

  •  A last wave goodbye from Mandela, flanked by Japanese security police, as he departs the stadium for official meetings in Tokyo. [Kyodo News photo]

    A last wave goodbye from Mandela, flanked by Japanese security police, as he departs the stadium for official meetings in Tokyo. [Kyodo News photo]

  •  Seven months later, May 1991: Nelson Mandela is back in Japan on his second visit, this time as the invited keynote speaker for a global press gathering in Kyoto sponsored by the Austria-based International Press Institute.

    Seven months later, May 1991: Nelson Mandela is back in Japan on his second visit, this time as the invited keynote speaker for a global press gathering in Kyoto sponsored by the Austria-based International Press Institute.

  •  Amid a very tight Japanese security presence, Mandela greets the well-wishers who turned out to meet him upon his arrival at Osaka International (Itami) Airport.

    Amid a very tight Japanese security presence, Mandela greets the well-wishers who turned out to meet him upon his arrival at Osaka International (Itami) Airport.

  •  Japan’s Justice Ministry allowed Mandela to come into the country under the strict condition that he not make any “political speeches” while in Japan. But that did not stop local Japanese anti-apartheid activists from planning their own political welcome.

    Japan’s Justice Ministry allowed Mandela to come into the country under the strict condition that he not make any “political speeches” while in Japan. But that did not stop local Japanese anti-apartheid activists from planning their own political welcome.

  •  Mandela, flanked by Japanese security police, exits the airport terminal building through a side door and acknowledges the waiting activists in the parking area with a wave.

    Mandela, flanked by Japanese security police, exits the airport terminal building through a side door and acknowledges the waiting activists in the parking area with a wave.

  •  In true Mandela style, he suddenly breaks away from his Japanese and South African handlers and walks over to greet the anti-apartheid activists who came to welcome him.

    In true Mandela style, he suddenly breaks away from his Japanese and South African handlers and walks over to greet the anti-apartheid activists who came to welcome him.

  •  Mandela spontaneously thanks the local activists — now stunned and speechless — for their support and urges them to keep on fighting for a South Africa that will be free someday.

    Mandela spontaneously thanks the local activists — now stunned and speechless — for their support and urges them to keep on fighting for a South Africa that will be free someday.

  •  The activists break out in singing the anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” as Mandela (in the back seat of the car) raises his fist in solidarity. Three years later, almost to the day, Nelson Mandela became the first president of a free, democratic South Africa.

    The activists break out in singing the anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” as Mandela (in the back seat of the car) raises his fist in solidarity. Three years later, almost to the day, Nelson Mandela became the first president of a free, democratic South Africa.

・A MADIBA MEMORIAL
A time for mourning, remembering, celebrating with the world the life of a man South Africans know as “Tata Madiba”.
・「ありがとう、母なる大自然」
古老の知恵を通して、そして、子どもの視線を通して伝えられた、恩恵に満ちた宝と自然界の息吹。
・MANDELA IN JAPAN
A revered freedom fighter released from prison after 27 years, and the welcome he receives in the Land of the Rising Sun.
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