In the country of my origin, not a single person was astranged to the name ‘Nelson Mandela’. The man was most loved by the people of South Africa, despite their race of which they were forced to be segregated by years ago.
When I think of the terrible apartheid regime which ruled the society my parents, grandparents and even great grandparents lived in, I am surely glad that they are where they are now. Though there are many things that I can see, many scars and hardships they had gone through which they hide.
My grandparents were children when apartheid started. Before then, everyone lived as normal. Though apartheid made the ‘white man’ untouchable, the ‘black man’ untameable, and the ‘indian man’ invisible. Many Indians and native Africans worked for the superior race, though were never allowed to share the priviledges the white man had, neither the ability to mingle with the ‘higher’ races. My grandparents tell me that they had african friends, and were often with other African workers during their leisure time, but as they spoke I could sense an invisible boundary which existed between these races, even if it seemed otherwise.
I think mostly I do not blame the Africans for the way things are now; they were forced out of power over their own land which they lived in for hundreds of years before the white man settled. They were treated terribly, killed unjustly. I was unaware that I fell into the trap that almost all Africans were caught in. Except a handful, one of them being an amazing man who one day rose above all odds to become a man who surprised the entire world, including his own nation.
His name was Nelson Mandela. A man who fought against apartheid from the time he was old enough to attend university and study law. This man, native african, was appalled by the way his home country had been run. But instead of complaining, instead of pitying himself, he decided to rise up and do something about it.
His respect for the white man came as a shock, and to many, was taken as an insult. Many of those who were disrespected, dishonoured and disgraced by the leaders of the apartheid regime, could not understand why Mandela had such courage and strength to speak to them respectfully and with grace.
I remember looking at him and wondering how such a man who had been treated so badly, could decide to love instead of hate; to forgive instead of hold unforgiveness; to respect instead of disrespect. How could a man who was forced into prison for 40 years away from his family, beaten and brushed both physically and mentally, stir up such courage to stand against the apartheid government? Only a man who decides to make a difference, and who is a man that has learnt how to love, can do this.
Mandela was released and made President of South Africa in 1994. The country were ecstatic of such a victory. Of course, there were people who still preferred such a derogatory system; it is these people whose minds I hope I will eventually learn to understand.