“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” —Nelson Mandela
We fly our flags at half mast for a man who changed the course of history in his country and who will never be forgotten. Nelson Mandela’s protests that ended apartheid made a lasting impact not only on South Africa, but on the rest of the world.
Nelson Mandela father was the chief of the “Madiba clan of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people.” When he was old enough, he renounced his claim to that title and left the tribe to pursue an education and become a lawyer. Four years before the apartheid started, he joined the African National Congress or ANC, a black-liberation group. It was being a part of this group and experiencing the racism firsthand which spurred his interest in an antiapartheid movement. After his release from jail, a mass of ANC members rallied to celebrate.
Even after being in prison for about 27 years, Mandela became the president of the ANC in 1991 and the president of South Africa in 1994. He realized that his strength and faith in his beliefs in would help him achieve his goals.
He fought for diversity and eventually got it. He spoke of courage: “Courage is not the absence of fear — it is inspiring others to move beyond it.”
During his lifetime, Mandela accomplished many great things. He fought for and won racial equality in South Africa, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which looked into human rights violations under apartheid and helped to rebuild the lives of many of the black South Africans who had lived in segregation.
Mandela fits into Archer’s theme for this school year: grit. His strength and courage contributed to the progress of racial equality in South Africa. His perseverance to follow what he believed in is something we can all take from him and remember in our day-to-day lives. Rather than mourning his death, we can celebrate it as a mark in the history of someone truly amazing.
“He reminded us of our commonality and not our differences, and that is why I was inspired by him,” said Archer’s school counselor Patty Lancaster. “Nelson Mandela was beloved because he spoke to the heart of truth.”
When interviewed, students had similar reactions, but one stood out. Xochitl Garcia-Euyoque ’15 believes that it is now up to us as people of this world to continue his legacy. “The rest of the journey is ours,” she said, “as people, to continue and complete.”
As we head into the holidays, let’s take a piece of Mandela’s life with us as we celebrate peace on earth and the coming of the new year.