Our first South African ICS team leader, Sbu Mathibela writes a powerful piece on the passing of Mandela.
When Nelson Mandela departed from this world on the 5th of December 2013, South Africa mourned.
The mourning was also filled with joy, because the country’s hero left a great legacy. Mandela’s death put South Africa in the spot-light, because his work was so well known; he hated poverty and he was a father of peace.
Mandela, an anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, served as the president of South Africa from 1994 – 1999.
Even though I wasn’t born during the dark years of apartheid in South Africa, I still remember people talking about it in the early 1990’s when I was a little boy. At the time I didn’t understand the progress this brilliant man was making, I only knew that there was a man called Mandela.
Having read about the history of South Africa and having heard the stories that the people told about apartheid, I immediately realised Mandela was someone special when he said, “Let there be peace”. I couldn’t understand how he could say this bold statement after what South African’s had been through.
I never met him, but if I’d had that opportunity I would have shook his hand and said, “thank you… you taught me to forgive”.
Being a first president of a democratic country wasn’t easy at all but what he made me realise is that there is a hero inside of me, inside all of us, who can make things that seem impossible possible.
If he sacrificed his life for people, why shouldn’t I sacrifice some of my time and energy for my community? Mandela believed young people were the future and that belief led to the birth of Nelson Mandela’s Children Fund that works to support vulnerable children.
I think ICS volunteers continue to work in the spirit of Mandela’s belief about the importance of engaging and empowering young people to tackle injustice and connect people from all backgrounds.
The people of South Africa will remember Mandela for many things, including his love of education. He once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” His passing will leave shoes no one can fill but his legacy is one of overcoming barriers and striving to achieve equality.
His philosophy on poverty wasn’t to blame the history of his country, but to encourage South African’s to be positive and make change for the better.
I’m here to walk in his footsteps and take my country to another level. It’s ordinary people like me who can do extraordinary things.
On Mandela’s birthday many people abandon their normal routines to do charity work because he believed that poverty is not natural – it is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.
In spite of all the challenges that South Africa is going through, there is still hope that we, South African’s, can make this country a better place to live in. He played his part, let me play mine…