Maya Angelou is a global icon, born in 1928 and who passed on May the 28th.
Her parents separated when she was very young which made her move in with her grandmother in Arkansas, this is a city where exclusion was rigidly enforced. At the age of seven she had been raped by one of her mother’s boyfriends, this traumatic event silenced until the age of 13. Later difficult circumstances also meant that Maya Angelou had spent her early adult years working in the entertainment industry as a stripper.
However being the person that she was, her traumatic history only made her stronger, not allowing anything to break her. Angelou was a singer and a dancer who toured Europe, she was also an incredible cook who wrote exceptional cook books that are treasured among many of her other writing pieces.
According to President Barack Obama, he described her as “one of the brightest lights of our time”, calling her “a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman”.
Angelou made name with the memoir – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which followed a childhood of cruelty and abuse in the 1930’s.
According to BBC News, her family described her as a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. Her life was lived to serve humanity.In 2011, President Obama handed over a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian award to her.
Obama adds “Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer above all, was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true.”
Former President Bill Clinton said “America had lost a national treasure and he and wife Hillary had lost “a beloved friend. The poems and stories Angelouwrote and read to us in her powerful voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, bravery and grace.”
One of her tweets that stood out read as follows “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
Her career had many openings, straddling television, theatre, film, children’s books and music. BBC adds that, Angelou was also a prominent civil rights activist and a friend of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
Her writing, her strengths and her elegance as a role model for those fighting for overcome inequalitand injustice was where she received her admirers.
In one of her final Facebook post, she said that due to an unexpected medical emergency, she had to cancel an engagement.
We quote from Maya Angelou “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that wheneverI decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
By Lauren Leonard, The SA Observer