These are a few of my thoughts regarding Nelson Mandela. He’s of course very ill right now. According to the news I was able to glean that he is on life support as I am writing this. He really is a great man in my mind. It isn't often that a political change like what happened in South Africa occurs without major bloodshed. He helped that country find their way into the new order of things where everyone could truly be equal regardless of their skin color, etc. Usually when something like that happens, the ones that think they are losing it all will fight back. That's simply human nature and it has occurred throughout history. It hurts everyone, including the ones that are fighting back.
One of the things I think of regarding South Africa is Apartheid. We actually had something very similar here in the US, like it or not. It’s part of our history. In fact I grew up in a very racist household, though before I moved out on my own I ditched those beliefs. Part of what caused me to do that was Nelson Mandela and what he had to say.
I also wanted to include in this post something from those that have actually lived in South Africa. Me, I’m an outsider that’s looking in. I’ve gotten fed what the news media to some extent has wanted me to hear. Luckily, for me, I just happen to know some people that live in South Africa and here are the responses.
Wanda Hartzenberg, Preatoria, South Africa
Madiba meant change. A change in definition a change in power and a change in perspective. Mostly a change in perspective. Everybody always say he is a symbol for hope. That hope was borne from change though. He changed himself and for the better. Making his life, his pov and his actions all the more relevant. He changed how we spoke, how we saw ourselves and our place in the world. He changed our language both spoken and our way of thinking. Note that this is a personal slant. I don’t speak for the collective. This is what Madiba means to me. Freedom not only in the conventional understood way but in that he opened up our minds, hearts and country and gave us the opportunity to grow and be part of things, ideas, ideologies we were never before free to be part of.
Aneesa Price, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Well here goes my thoughts:
"I remember a time when, as a Colored girl, my paler brother could go to beaches and movie houses that I couldn't. I remember living in a less than safe area because it was one that Colored were allowed to live in and I remember a school that seemed normal to me then, but if I look back now, I see it for what it is - one with many disadvantages. Mostly, I remember the riots right on my doorstep with my father and brothers protecting us in ways they shouldn't have had to and neighbors turning on each other in their momentary madness.
Then I remember the day that Nelson Mandela walked out of prison. I watched it on TV with my family and everyone was so happy, so hopeful. I remember the fantastic things he did - how cleverly he used sports to unify a nation, his patience and sensitivity, how words and deeds were things he used selflessly for the betterment of South African people.
Today, I can thank him and many others like him, the comrades and freedom fighters, for the enormous sacrifices they made so that I can love the man I do today (a white man), have the beautiful children I treasure and the many opportunities I have. Sometimes it is the big things like those that make the difference - getting to go to a good university (not a non-white one as in Apartheid times), getting to marry whom I want and provide my children with a could education. And sometimes it is the smaller things, the ones we take for granted that make the difference the most for which I am grateful for. You never know how freeing it is to be able to just stop and go into a store, see a house in any area and buy it and take your kids to the nearest hospital... you never know how liberating that is until you don't have it. Fortunately, time has made me remember enough to be grateful and to have moved and even more fortunately, my children do not have those restrictions on them in the least.
Yes, there are many other challenges South Africa is faced with today but compared to the past, it is utopia.
Thank you Madiba for your strength, courage and wisdom. The world may admire you, but we, South Africans, live our gratitude every day.
"Amandla, Viva South Africa! Viva Nelson Mandela!"