Rollins on Madiba

In case you haven`t read one of the Henry Rollins interviews published lately (there are many - the guy likes to communicate), let me get the introductions out of the way: Used to be a pioneering hardcore punk rocker, in Black Flag then the Henry Rollins Band, became a spoken word artist, public speaker, stand-up comic, human rights activist, campaigner against war and for gay rights, radio DJ, etc, etc. Lots of tattoos, doesn`t drink or do drugs, once very buff (still a little buff).

I got to interview Henry Rollins for the Mail & Guardian, which is cool, but I only sent him email questions.

I wanted to meet him in person, and I got the chance when I was told he would be talking to members of the press in Joburg to commemorate receiving a 46664 bangle in honour of his humanitarian efforts.

It`s quite a heavy thing to receive.

The 46664 Bangle project sees Nelson Mandela`s organisation aim to raise $130 million over 12 years by selling 2,5 million silver bangles, or gold, platinum and copper bangles to the same value. In the process, the bangles aim to spread a HIV/Aids prevention message and create 4000 job opportunities. Rollins is aware that, while this is an honour, it comes with a level of responsibility. "I don`t take myself seriously, but I take all this other stuff REALLY seriously", he says.

Unsurprisingly, Rollins is inspired by the association with Nelson Mandela. "It`s not like he`s actually gonna call me up and say `hey Henry, this is Nelson`, that`s not gonna happen, but just getting this kind of aknowledgement is gratifying, but at the same time it kind of made me a bit nervous. it`s a wonderful thing but am I worthy of such a nod? It makes me wanna work harder".

While Roliins may be getting ready to work harder, he feels that Madiba needs a rest to enjoy his retirement.

"Nelson Mandela must have a few afternoons of watching the sunset. Don`t bother him, it`s been a long, long road for that man. I think he`s given quite enough".

Rollins feels that we all owe the man some gratitude, but that this gratitude should take the form of action, not words.

"It`s time for everyone to say thank you to Nelson Mandela.

And how we say Nelson Mandela is:

We stop war.

We stop starvation.

We end food insecurity.

We end hostility.

We end dropping bombs on people.

And don`t bother sending him a card.

Your thank you to him is to go out and to make it different and to make it better, and, no matter how broke ass you are, you can do that. Anyone can".

Catch Henry Rollins in his new one man show, Frequent Flyer, at the Pretoria State Theatre on Thur May 6, the Bassline in Johannesburg on Fri May 7 and the Baxter Concert Hall, Cape Town on May 8. Tickets are R290.

Support Madiba`s 46664 foundation by buying bangles at

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