Liz’s Memories Of A Great Man, Nelson Mandela [PICTURES]
Nelson Mandela might be one of the greatest men of our time. Will there ever be anyone like him again? We can only hope.
At the age of 95, Nelson Mandela passed away and left a legacy that is hard to just put on paper.
I was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa before my freshman year of college, and it’s a trip that will stay with me forever. South Africa is this amazingly beautiful country that still has lingering remnants of the times of apartheid. If you think about it, the end of apartheid was not that long ago.
While in South Africa, I was able to visit Robben Island (where Mandela was held for most of his 27 years of his prison term), Mandela’s former home and many other places that are remembered from the days of apartheid.
While on Robben Island, we learned of Mandela’s daily routine. One of his jobs was to move large rocks from one pile to another, day after day, for no purpose. Nelson Mandela was also held in his own cell, and our tour guide (a former prisoner who came back daily to give tours) told us that they would frequently have to change his guards because just by talking to them, he could change their views on apartheid and the state of South Africa.
His home was another place I will never forget about. With a lot of his personal items still there, including furniture, clothes, boots, honorary degrees…it was almost like he still lived there. I knew even then that walking through this house was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Something I will never forget is when we asked if there was a restroom nearby we could use.The tour guy pointed over our shoulder, and it was the bathroom in the house! Yes, I took a photo on the toilet and to this day, I don’t regret it. The bathroom, an addition to the house, was built because walking to the outhouse became too dangerous because of attempts on Mandela’s life. Many of his nights were spent away from windows.
Nelson Mandela touched and changed many people’s lives…including mine. Being able to learn about this great man in his country was truly and honor and a privilege. To hear stories from people who knew him and lived the long journey to freedom with him are things I would have never learned from a book. I learned so much about not only South African relations, but our own here in the U.S. because of my stay in South Africa. Visiting the town of Soweto and speaking to a mother who still does not know what happened to her children on 16 June was haunting. She would set up her table everyday outside the Hector Pieterson Museum and sell her t-shirts and memorabilia and tell her story.
If you want a trip that will bring you laughter, beauty, inspiration and knowledge…South Africa is the place for you to visit. Robben Island has some of the most beautiful and inspirational views you will ever see in your life, and they’re not just of Table Rock Mountain.