Mandela left indelible impact on people worldwide

Special to the HeraldDecember 23, 2013 

Gone, but never to be forgotten.

The world rallied together to remember and celebrate the life of a man who touched millions of lives with his striking spirit and gentle nature: adored former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, most often called Madiba by fellow South Africans, which is the name of the clan he is from and refers to the ancestor from whom a person is descended, was loved by millions. Some BRHS students were heartbroken to see such a figure leave this Earth even at the ripe age of 95.

"Mr. Mandela's death is such a tragic event and I am genuinely upset. He was a man of stature who was able to change the history of his great nation and had lasting effects," junior Zachary Ali said.

Born July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, a small village in South Africa. Mandela passed Dec. 5 after a long illness.

Mandela grew up in a time of white oppression against black South Africans. The National Party government enforced apartheid, a system of racial segregation, which was carried out through legislation and armed enforcement. Blacks were not allowed to go where they pleased without having a source of identification and good jobs were reserved for whites only.

Mandela joined the anti-apartheid revolution as one

of its leading speakers. After one of his four-hour speeches, he was arrested and put in prison for 27 years.

He was charged with encouraging worker strikes and leaving the country without permission. Sent to Robben Island in 1964, he was transferred in 1982 to Pollsmoor Prison.

Mandela was released Feb. 11, 1990, and the event was broadcast worldwide. His attitude after prison made him unique, not only among political leaders, but also people everywhere.

"He forgave the people who put him in prison and I think that is such a foreign concept. There are very few people internationally that have a global effect like he had," history teacher Erik Nelson said.

Mandela worked alongside Frederik Willem de Klerk and in 1993, apartheid was finally abolished. In 1994, he became first black president of South Africa.

Mandela did not abolish apartheid by rallying blacks to turn against whites, rather, he encouraged his nation to put aside race and focuse on resolution.

Many at Braden River High School have felt the weight of Mandela's death, none more so than senior Taryn Scyrzba, who moved to the United States from South Africa when she was 3.

Her family still living in South Africa has visited Mandela's memorial.

"Mandela was viewed as a father of the nation," Scyrzba said. "He is called 'Tata' which means father in Xhosa. My mom as well as my sister met Mandela at his grandson's birthday party. He was always very close to the people and never looked down on those who had less."

Mandela did not want to be known as a saint, but rather as a man. He admitted his flaws in a self-deprecating manner that made him more likeable. He instructed people all over the world to work against prejudice toward any race or culture.

"I think he is so different from other leaders of his day because of his unrelenting will to achieve something so monumental and to do it with his kind and nonjudgmental nature," senior

Natalie Marshall said.

The Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded in 1993 to Mandela and Willem de Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa." It was just one of the roughly 250 awards Mandela earned in his lifetime.

"People can draw inspiration, determination, and confidence from his accomplishments," junior Lucas Mingote said.

He is a man who spoke through his actions and he will long be discussed in history classes worldwide.

"I learned about Nelson Mandela in (Advanced Placement) world history. We watched a movie called 'Invictus.' After that I researched about him online, which made the great things he did in movies that much better," junior Carly Provan said.

Even people who did not agree with Mandela's beliefs respected him as a person. He d bridged the gap between races in his once-rigid country and taught that by loving people, behavior can change.

"He cared more about other people of the world than he did himself," junior Brock Younce said.

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