06 December 2013
What Nelson Mandela Means to Me
It's hard to know what to say about Nelson Mandela without sounding trite or without repeating what thousands of others are saying.
I was born in South Africa of Lebanese descent. My parents, also born in South Africa, moved to London in 1961 to escape persecution for their darker skin.
I can't imagine what it must be like to have to leave everything behind because of fear for your freedom and your life. My mother has had difficulty talking about it all her life, but every now and then I get glimpses of the sheer terror that the Apartheid regime inflicted on millions of people like her.
Nelson Mandela changed all that. He is a hero to my family just as he is to billions who have not lived in South Africa.
I did a lot of work on poverty dynamics in South Africa in the 1992-2000 period and I still remember first hand the hope unleashed by his new-found freedom.
But perhaps most important was the hope he gave people when he was not free. He reminded us that fighting for fundamental rights frequently means being prepared to sacrifice your own.
RIP Mandiba and thank you.
Posted by Lawrence Haddad at 11:07