The Legacy of Nelson Mandela
by Marva McClean, PhD
What a friend the world has in this symbol of possibilities!
I was born amid the winds of change in Jamaica, a country fueled by the yearning for freedom and self-determination, on the brink of self government. By the time Jamaica achieved independence from Britain in 1962 and my parents readied me for elementary school, I was well schooled in the ideology of emancipation and freedom of expression. At school I learned about our country’s national heroes and at age seven played the lead narrator in a pageant celebrating the work of Paul Bogle in the Morant Bay Rebellion. Today, I have committed my life to the work of social justice and equity, determined to make a meaningful contribution in the struggle for equal educational opportunities and outcome for children who have been traditionally marginalized in the United States and societies around the world.
When I think of the work I would like to accomplish, I peer out into the world for inspiration, for examples of others who have left a well traveled trail to guide us. Like the national heroes of Jamaica, Paul Bogle, Nanny of the Maroons, and Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela stands tall as an icon of strength, a figure recognized for his stand against injustice and his unwavering commitment to dismantle the hegemonic construct of Apartheid. President Mandela went to prison for twenty seven years, yet emerged a victor as president of the Republic of South Africa. While in confinement he wrote his autobiography, mentored fellow prisoners, earned a second degree, and co-directed a massive grassroots movement that led to his release from prison. What a friend the world has in this symbol of possibilities!
For the past week I have been working with youth, reading and analyzing the biography of Nelson Mandela, writing essays about his character traits and those qualities that shaped his pathway to heroism. With my adult friends, I seek to inquire into how they will honor Mandela’s legacy; what they will do to mark the fact of his influence on their lives. As for me, I will hold onto Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a gift from a friend, a source of inspiration to remain steadfast on the path; to work with children, youth and young adults in ways to use reading, writing, and speaking as tools of social justice and empowerment. I am so grateful to have Nelson Mandela, his work and his legacy, as an archetype of heroism. I know that we, my students, my friends, family and I are in good company the world over as we continue this journey on the long walk to freedom.
While much has been accomplished, there is still much more to be done in the struggle for social justice and equity in our society.
Education remains an area of pressing need that demands our attention.
We are forever journeying towards social justice. Our desire for a just world keeps us inspired to continue the journey joining hands with others along the way; across the globe.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this gift from God – Mandiba, Nelson Mandela.
I was fortunate enough to participate in an auction not usually open to people in my “financial zip code,” but I may have been the only one who knew the importance of the piece – two signed Mandela photos framed together. One photo in his prison cell, the other as President Mandela, complete with its certificate of authenticity. When the auction closed, I had bid more than two weeks wages and with God’s blessings, I now own the piece. This is a prized possession, for it is as close as I would ever get to the great Mandela. Securing the piece was all about triumph over struggle, it was about Mandiba’s legacy. My children and grandchildren and those to follow will always be reminded of his tangible contributions to mankind. Their interest in the man and the subsequent lessons taught around the piece was a reward greater than I had paid. For my grandchildren to know that even in bondage, one man’s courage and leadership can make a world of difference.
Every second Sunday in December, I place flowers on the altar to honor the memory of my daughter. This year, her children asked that I place them to honor the life of Nelson Mandela. His work is not lost on the youth of tomorrow.
Thank you again Marva, for challenging us to honor his legacy. As for me, I join with my church in honoring him with a commitment to continue to pray and struggle for justice for the marginalized of the world.
How wonderful that you were able to secure the photographs at the auction! Now you have a treasured possession that is an important part of the legacy, one that you will tangibly pass down to your descendants in much the same way you are teaching them about the struggle for social justice and equity and the role Nelson Mandela has played and continues to play in this journey. I love the idea of stopping to pray for the marginalized throughout the world at a scheduled time. It is so easy to take what we have for granted, forgetting about the countless children who are still in bondage and suffering daily. In the words of Nelson Mandela: Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world.
I agree that Nelson Mandela is an icon of social justice and equity, an individual whose lasting legacy impacts the entire world. Sadly however, his death was greatly overshadowed by other events and under-reported in the media. Actor Paul Walker of The Fast and The Furious 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 died in a terrible car accident that week. News and radio stations and social media alike continually retold the story of the actor’s tragic death. It is unfortunate though that our youth remain uneducated and unenlightened as to the great leader that the world lost in Nelson Mandela; his achievements and glory left in grey. To add insult to injury, and clear confirmation that the media is the strongest driving force to “educate” the masses, I found this shocking report. ..
In India a project was financed to erect a billboard honoring the late and great South African leader,Nelson Mandela…..instead the billboard features MORGHAN FREEMAN, the Actor that plays Mandela in Invictus….Simply disturbing!!
Below an excerpt from the article indicates the feeble admission of the those responsible:
“We will replace it with the correct picture of Mandela,” adding that he didn’t know how the mix-up occurred, but that it was the designer who was to blame.
This is a stark reminder that each of us has the responsibility to ensure that our stories are told and told correctly in order that we educate the youth and adult alike.