In the news: on 5 December ex-president of South Africa and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95.
Comments by Ntuthuko Mkhize, PhD student in the Resource Ecology chair group, and Marlise Stalmans, MSc student of Food Technology, both from South Africa.
Marlise: ‘Nelson Mandela was a great man who taught us a lot about humility, forgiveness and forbearance. Without him South Africa would have gone in a different direction, and my life would have been different too. Right now I wish I was at home – I feel like I am really missing something. Everyone is mourning together and that brings people closer together. People are out on the streets, and they are laying flowers outside Mandela’s house. People are gathering with posters and photos on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg – all to remember Mandela. Even in his death he is bringing people together.’
Ntuthuko: ‘For me personally he is a real example, for his vitality and his skillfulness. Whenever I feel listless, or if I am angry and can’t forgive someone for something, I look to Mandela for inspiration. When I think about all he has achieved, and all that he stands for, I realize I should try harder to do my best. Whether it’s about working hard or being kind to other people, Mandela helps me to get the best out of myself.’
Marlise: ‘Nelson Mandela’s big achievement is that he did a lot to get rid of the “us and them” mentality. But his ideas have not spread to everyone yet. There is still racism in South Africa, among a small minority. Both white and black racism. It comes from the milieu people grow up in. I spent my last two years of school in a mainly white school where there was a lot of prejudice against black people. That they all lived in townships, where there was a lot of crime. Lack of contact with other ethnic groups keeps those sorts of prejudices going.’
Ntuthuko: ‘Our generation is also only the first generation to grow up in the post-apartheid era. It will take a generation before we have completely realized Mandela’s ideals. But I foresee a bright future for us. It is up to our generation now to keep his ideals alive and make them blossom to the full.’