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Thank you Sir


Tears fall slowly down my cheeks as I watch with heart-felt emotion America’s President Barack Obama pay tribute to the legendary hero Nelson Mandela. I’m crying, it’s ironic that I didn’t on hearing the news of his passing, but now as hundreds of thousands have come together including many politicians and political leaders from around the world to pay respect to him.  As I write this former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says: “I can’t think of anyone else who could bring so many people together, it’s a celebration of what he represented. The great political lesson was to carry on, he was very warm and very human to be around. That was what part of made him so extraordinary”

Wiping my tears I listen intently, all I can think of is Nelson Mandela, not only that he is no longer here, but the mark he made in the world and on so many of us. He was a man of triumph, struggle, belief and equality, a man who stood up to the oppression and was imprisoned for a life sentence because of it.

Nelson Mandela didn’t want to be segregated because he was a black man, nor did he want the people of South Africa to be treated indifferently due to the colour of their skin, after being expelled from university several times – the first for taking part in a student protest- but he continued to fought for what he wanted to see change in. Apartheid- this is what Nelson Mandela battled to get rid of, he spent 27 years imprisoned because of his beliefs. What was Apartheid? For those of you who may not know below is a definition.

Apartheid forced white and non-white people to live in separate areas. Non-white people meant black people, people from Asia and people of mixed race.

Not only were they not allowed to live together, this also meant a black person and a white couldn’t marry. They would not be allowed on a bus together, school was exactly- children’s schools were either all-white or all-black as were the sport teams and as shocking as it goes even restaurants white people and black people couldn’t sit at the same place to eat.

Nelson Mandela was determined to change the government, to make sure this stopped and human rights would exist in South Africa. In 1964 at the age of 64 he was arrested and sentenced to 27 years in prison, 18 of which he was taken to Roben Island, where he was forced to do hard labour and just one visitor every six months.

In 1988 the government in South Africa took a huge step when they allowed black students enter ‘white’ universities, the people of South Africa were right behind Mandela calling for his release, for his freedom.. in 1990 he was set free.

I could sit here and write you his whole story but that would be pointless, what with the likes of books, television and of course the phenomenal world of the internet, but I would like to share with you my feelings on learning about this great leader of our time. To me, he was a man of determination, he didn’t like what was happening to him and his people so he took action, he stood up, spoke out, he wasn’t backing down until he got it either and in the end he did!

Nelson Mandela was someone we should look up to, be inspired by and remember that as long we believe in it, we can also make it happen.

I’d like to leave you with a few words of this great and humble human-being whose memory lives on today:

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”

Nelson Mandela

Thank you Sir, thank you for everything you fought for, thank you for showing us the ability to stand up for what you believe in and succeeding because of it. Thank you for being an inspiration and showing us the change is possible. Thank you Nelson Mandela, may your legacy live on because you are in peace now.

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