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MANDELA AT 90 - A Life Well-Lived

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Author Topic: MANDELA AT 90 - A Life Well-Lived  (Read 28 times)
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« on: July 20, 2008, 11:17:27 am »

                                                 Mandela at 90 a life well-lived

Fri Jul 18, 2008
By Joyce King
Yahoo News

Nelson Mandela was a hero of mine growing up; he still is. So it came as a disappointment to me that my 15-year-old son, Brandon, like so many others of his generation, had "heard the name" but knew little about the monumental sacrifice this South African freedom fighter had made for his people   
and ultimately for the world.

As Mandela celebrates his 90th birthday today, it has made me think about what gift the world should give to a man who accomplished so much    including winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993    and who has asked so little in return.

Soon I came to the conclusion that the most important gift we could bestow on him is to have as many young people as possible learn about his amazing accomplishments so that they are never forgotten.

I decided I should start with my own son. I handed Brandon a copy of Mandela's memoir, Long Walk to Freedom, and told him, "Read this, and when you finish write me a book report on the life of Nelson Mandela."

He instantly frowned, cracked it open and read the first line: "Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla."

"Thanks, Mom. Do I have to read this?" he sarcastically asked. Rolihlahla means "pulling the branch of the tree" or simply, "troublemaker"    my new nickname for having come up with this brilliant assignment.

Mandela gave dignity to those around him by being a talented lawyer and activist. Later, he organized a youth chapter of the African National Congress, the same party Mandela would lead in the efforts against the all-white government's apartheid policies. He was later tried and convicted of plotting to overthrow the government and spent 27 years in prison.

Even locked away at Robben Island Prison, Mandela never wavered in his fight against apartheid. Indeed, during his incarceration, he built on his reputation as a symbol of resistance against racial injustice. An outraged international community applied pressure on the South African government to release him. Mandela was finally freed in 1990 and became his country's first black president just four years later.

These are a few of the details my son reported back to me upon finishing the assignment. I also used this occasion to teach him other lessons about social justice and how one person can make a difference.

                                                    Happy birthday, Rolihlahla.

Joyce King is a writer in Dallas.
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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