Years of segregation. Years of apartheid. Years where we had just black and white. Years where neither side spoke to each other nor recognized the other race. Years where one race ruled over the other and suppressed them with force. Years of trials and tribulations in getting a man set free for a crime he never committed. But in the end, it all paid off. The apartheid ended. There were no more separate places tailored to their races. And instead of one race ruling over the other, we have a united country where blacks and whites get along and work together. 27 years of being in prison before being freed, combined with 24 years of bringing the country closer together like ever before, paid off.
I remember the images of Nelson Mandela as he was set free in 1990 and how his compassion for the people combined with the strive to bring forgiveness for the sins committed his time in jail, overshadowed the images of apartheid. I remember how he and F.W. De Clerk came together to create a new unified country, winning the Nobel Prize for Peace in the process. I also remember him for being the first black president of South Africa. But I also remember how many political greats, like Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton and others looked up to him for guidance, as if he established a suffrage movement to provide equality, like the women in the US established a suffrage movement in the 1920s so that they can vote. Both of them paid grand dividends in the end. And lastly he was the figure that made South Africa famous for its rugby (and the World Cup in 1995) and soccer (the World Cup in 2010).
And now Mandela, after 95 fruitful years, has entered an age of eternity, joining the greats, like King, Abraham Lincoln, and others who tore down the walls separating people of different backgrounds, and leaving a mark that will forever be talked about in the classroom, on the street and at home at the dinner table. When I see a vuvuzela, the flag of South Africa, or any of the Nobel Peace Prizes, I will always think of Mandela as the man that changed not only South Africa, but the world. I don’t think anyone can top him because of what he did.
The Flensburg Files and its sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is honoring great man in his memory, thanking him for everything he did. He will be missed by all, but also remembered by all.