We are deeply saddened to hear of Nelson Mandela’s passing and wish his family peace and wellness.
As a native Zimbabwean, I traveled around the southern regions of Africa on a fairly regular basis and was always so intrigued and moved by Mandela’s courage, words of wisdom, and his sacrifice and devotion to the great country of South Africa.
What Nelson Mandela meant to me:
As the first president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela made tremendous, revolutionary strides in freeing the oppressed people of South Africa, bringing about equality between the “whites” and “non-whites,” and transforming South Africa into a truly democratic nation.
One of the things I really admired Mandela for was his devotion in creating equality. He believed so strongly in equality between ALL races / colors (whatever you want to refer to the segregations as) that he would actually have died for it—and almost did several times!
But 27 years in prison and the notion of death never stopped Mandela from his mission to bring about equality and a just government to South Africa.
In fact, when Mandela was put on trial for government sabotage in October 1963, he was faced with the death penalty and made clear to the court that his belief in equality was something he would die over. Here are his exact words to the court:
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Having grown up in Africa during the time of Apartheid, although I was a kid, my parents always believed in a free society. I can assure you, my grandparents and parents were given the 9th degree at times on their beliefs, but their beliefs have made me the person I am today. I can’t imagine how horrid it was not being able to do anything to change the political system. My grandfather was pretty much asked to leave Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) due to his beliefs that equality is a right. But thanks to individuals like Nelson Mandela, South Africa eventually transformed into the great country that it is today, sans segregation.
If you have never been on a trip to South Africa before, I encourage you to visit and educate yourself on the history of Apartheid and how it has affected the South Africa we see today. I suggest including the Apartheid Museum and Robben Island in your itinerary, for sure. Those two activities are an absolute must for individuals on a South Africa family safari vacation.
The Apartheid Museum, located in Johannesburg, welcomes visitors from around the world to explore the affects that Apartheid had on Africa in the 20th century and brings to life some of the realities South Africans had to face. It truly is a life-altering experience to walk through this museum. Read more about the Apartheid Museum here.
Robben Island, on the other hand, is a small island, located just off the coast of Cape Town and has been used to imprison political figures and criminals since the 1600s (it was also used to hospitalize people with leprosy and mental illnesses). Nelson Mandela, as well as other African leaders, Muslim leaders, and anti-apartheids were imprisoned on Robben Island and the cells in which they lived, ate, and slept, can be seen and walked through today.
In my concluding words, here, I would like to say that Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes and will remain that way for my lifetime. It was always a dream of mine to meet such a heroic and selfless individual and I am sorry that I was unable to make that dream come true.
Even though he is gone from this world, I will continue to hold his philosophies dear, and always live life with those ideologies in mind.