News / Africa

The 'Mandela Generation' Reflects on South Africa's Founding Hero

A girl holds a South African national flag as people mourn the death of former President Nelson Mandela outside Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela made his first speech after his release from his 27-year incarceration, Dec. 6, 2013.
A girl holds a South African national flag as people mourn the death of former President Nelson Mandela outside Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela made his first speech after his release from his 27-year incarceration, Dec. 6, 2013.
Nadia Samie
Nelson Mandela was one of the most loved and respected politicians in the world,  but for South Africans he was more than that. For them, he was the father of their reborn nation and adored even by young South Africans who were born as he was ending his political life. 
 
For many in South Africa, the advent of democracy in 1994 offered the promise of hope, a future where all would have equal access to health care, education and jobs. The reality has been different. Public education and health services are crumbling, the gap between rich and poor has grown, unemployment has increased and government at all levels has been plagued by corruption and poor administration.
 
Until the end of his life, former President Nelson Mandela remained a beacon of hope and a source of pride for all South Africans, continuing to inspire his fellow citizens and millions around the globe each day. These include the youngsters who make up the so-called “Mandela generation," the first children to be born and raised in a democratic South Africa.
 
Twelve-year-old Jonathan Sibandi is among those children, and saw Mandela as a father figure.
 
”Mandela is like the father of our nation. To be in this country and say you don’t know Mandela, is actually a slap in the face. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be there, where I would be scrubbing the floors. So Mandela is an inspirational leader,” said Sibandi.
 
Another 12-year-old, Phumelele Mothadi, doesn’t take lightly the fact that she’s been privileged to grow up in a democratic country.
 
“I feel like I’ve got a huge responsibility on my shoulders, because I feel like I have to do whatever I can, for South Africa not to go back to what it was, before ’94,” said Mothadi.
 
Thirteen-year-old Daniel Singh says that, after a painful history, Mandela has managed to make South Africans proud of their heritage once again.
 
“I mean it shows that us South Africans are capable of doing something. You shouldn’t judge us by the way we look, the way we say things and about the way that we do things… We are capable of changing the world and we’ve done so through Mandela and he’s proven the world a point, that we can do anything,” said Singh.
 
Sibandi agrees, and also touched on the pride engendered from such a prominent figure coming from one’s country.
 
“It makes me feel proud, because at least someone from a little country, a little person, someone that may be of insignificance can make a big difference in the world… To become so large and so popular, it’s amazing to see what he has done,” said Sibandi.
 
Sibandi identified forgiveness as the most important thing he has learned from Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid.
 
“The ability to come out of prison and still be peaceful with everyone around him.  I mean if other people had come out of prison, there would have been violence, but to see how he came out of prison, and actually still love the people who put him in prison, it’s pretty amazing,” said Sibandi.
 
For Mothadi, the lesson to be learned from the popular late president is selflessness.
 
“I love him because he fought for me to be free, and he doesn’t even know me, and that’s pretty special,” said Mothadi.
 
Meanwhile, Singh said he couldn’t have found a better role model.
 
“I love Nelson Mandela because he is an awesome role model to look up to.  He has never given up. He was persevering through whatever he did. He had his mind set on one thing, and he went for that one thing, and because of him today I have a better future, I have a reason for living today,” explained Singh.
 
Perhaps Mothadi best summed up the feeling among the Mandela generation in modern South Africa: “I feel relieved, that I don’t have to fight like the struggles of the apartheid and everything. I feel… free.”
 
Children from across South Africa will be given opportunities to express their feelings and pay their last respects to the man fondly known by them as Madiba (his Xhoze clan name) or Tata (Xhosa for ‘father’) at school and community memorial events.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid