A visit to Mandela’s jail
In 2005 I traveled to South Africa with my husband. We visited Robben Island in Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and later to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. The legacy of South African President Mandela that people will be talking about and honoring over the next few days was pronounced in these visits. Where his freedom was taken away, where hatred resonated throughout a depressed nation, Mandela brought hope and joy. Even during his incarceration his energy was positive, and he maintained communication and a system of education with other prisoners that was called a “university.” It was in the rocky hillside where he was forced to crush stones that other prisoners learned diplomacy and honor. It was here that they learned how to negotiate in a hostile world. Nelson Mandela demonstrated love and gained the respect of his warders and other prisoners. It is a story that filled my heart with hope for the future of the world. At the end of our emotional journey in South Africa we left the Apartheid Museum with tears in our eyes even as we were asked to pledge an end to the cruelties and misunderstandings caused by a race-based oppression. As we added a stone to the rock pile at the exit we promised never to forget, never to forget.
So today it is fitting that people all around the world remember President Mandela for his great strength and courage. And that we never forget what racism, what unfettered hatred takes from all of us. As a world body we must never forget. As Americans still struggling to overcome our own form of racial oppression, we must never forget, but we must look to the future with hope and love for all of our fellow citizens.