Mandela’s legacy lives on

World mourns loss of civil rights leader


Madeleine Redelinghuys (reprinted with permission)

South Africans mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela by holding vigil outside his home Johannesburg, South Africa on Dec. 5. “I think that we were remembering his legacy even before he died,” sophomore Calla Saunders said.

Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to ending the racially oppressive system of apartheid in South Africa, where he became a source of inspiration and a moral compass worldwide. According to an article in The New York Times, Mandela was surrounded by family on Dec. 5 when he died peacefully at age 95, after several hospitalizations for a lung infection.

“We had known for a while that it was coming, so I think we were remembering his legacy even before he died,” sophomore Calla Saunders said.

Mandela has left a lasting legacy. According to CNN, President Barack Obama is quoted as saying “He no longer belongs to us –he belongs to the ages.”

People around the world mourn for the loss of a brilliant and dedicated leader and celebrate his life with memorials and moments of silence.

In an Upper School assembly on Dec. 9, US Principal Chris Hughes began by recounting moment of Mandela’s significance, and played the Maya Angelou video of her poem “His Day is Done.”

Several movies have also contributed to immortalizing Mandela, including Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which premiered just one week before his passing.

St. Paul Academy and Summit School students weren’t alive to see Mandela help end apartheid or rise to presidency but were sad to hear of Mandela’s passing regardless. “He was old, and I knew he was sick, but I was still sad because he was such a great person,” junior Neerja Thakkar said.

Mandela’s determination to end apartheid was taken as a threat to the government, and in 1962 he was sentenced to life in jail for high treason.

“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end,” Mandela said.

And rise he did, after his release from prison after 27 years.

He only grew in strength after that. Shortly after his release, in 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. A year later, the first election to be open to both black and white people in South Africa was held, and Mandela won, making him the first black president of his country.

Mandela was confident that he had done what he needed to with his life, and because of that he wasn’t scared of his death.

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity,” Mandela said.