A Mandela Moment

it always seems impossible until its done

Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 for conspiring to sabotage the apartheid government. Essentially, Mandela was jailed because he fought for equality. He was imprisoned 27 years until he was finally able to walk to freedom in 1990. Mandela’s triumphant fight to bring justice and equality for all South Africans alike is a story that is honored worldwide.

Prof. Gallay gave an awesome presentation about the development of South Africa this week. I was aware of South Africa’s fight against apartheid policy, but not the history behind it. The waves of settlers to move into South Africa throughout various periods in history constructed a very diverse picture of South African population. The various indigenous tribes, early Dutch settlers, British settlers, and various slaves that came to South Africa created major ethnic divides and set the stage for apartheid policy.

I was completely blown away when I heard a clip of Prime Minister H.F. Verwoerd (the archetict of apartheid) describe the policy as “good neighboring.”I was glad to have Prof. Gallay bring Verwoerd’s remarks up for discussion in his presentation because I was watching the documentary Have You Heard From Johannesburg? prior to class where Verwoerd’s remarks were displayed.

It is very hard for me to understand how apartheid philosophies can rule a nation. It is even harder for me to think that apartheid policies are not far removed…. Nelson Mandela was just released from prison in 1990.

Taken back by this revelation of time, I better understand the circumstances of our trip. It may be foreign to me, but the kids we will be working with have parents who most likely lived during apartheid. South Africa is not far removed from its long fight against oppressive segregation. Equality is new to South Africa, and that is something that I need to take into great consideration.

MandelaThe name Nelson Mandela is synonymous with South Africa, but I am very glad that I learned what made Mandela the renowned figure that he is. His dignity to fight for equality is exemplary; his 27-year sacrifice is inconceivable, and his courage to transform and lead South Africa after imprisonment is remarkable. It is sad to see his health deteriorate, but he has inspired a nation and his spirit and strength will forever live with South Africa.

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