Behind Houghton Walls

Published December 5, 2013

Madiba has been a long time a-dying.

I’ve driven, we all have,

past his Houghton home;

cream security walls

even him.


Behind power and wire

cameras watch for mayhem

coming in

even legends need protection here

despite all that he gave

on that dusty isle

so many years and stones.


How very different is it now

behind high electric fences;

the food is better

doctors, journalists hang

on every pulse and breath

and now there is universal adulation.


when homes and hospitals resemble prisons

what does freedom mean?


– Iain T. Benson, Loudas, St. Pe de Bigorre, France

COPYRIGHT © Iain T. Benson 2013

Poet, professor and lawyer Iain T. Benson is Professor Extraordinary, University of the Free State – Faculty of Law, Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at Bloemfontein, South Africa, and former Senior Associate Counsel at Miller Thomson LLP, Canada. F&O publishes Behind Houghton Walls with Dr. Benson’s generous permission.

Nelson Mandela died the evening of December 5, 2013, age 95, after an extended illness.