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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More