I get angry when I think about his early life and the pain, suffering and injustice he and many other black and colored South Africans endured for more than 40 years because of apartheid. It reminds me of the United States "Jim Crow" days in the south. The two discriminatory systems are practically brother and sister. Architects of apartheid visited the United States in the 1940s and based their system off our "Jim Crow" laws, but made it much more heinous in its implementation and practice in South Africa.
If I grew up during apartheid I would have had to carried an ID card that listed my race as black. I would only be able to live with other blacks. I wouldn't have had white friends, nor would I have married my husband who would have been classified as colored. No one should have to live under such conditions.
I understand why Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid and at times used violence to combat violence. What still mystifies me about him is that he served almost 30 years in prison for his convictions and was willing do die for it, even die in prison. He's beliefs and his convictions about freedom and democracy for all South Africans did not waiver and he didn't give up. When Mandela was released from prison he wasn't angry and vengeful, he believed the only way to move himself and his country forward was through forgiveness. I find that astonishing and tells me a lot about his character.
Like King, his vision of democracy and freedom isn't fully realized. The remnants of apartheid still linger in many areas within the country. I think economic disparities between whites and people of color are a result of the inequities apartheid created. The country has faced its demons through the reconciliation process, but the struggle continues. It's a global struggle. Injustice in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States and others parts of the globe matter and we need to make others aware of these struggle. Like it or not, we are all connected.
Over the next few days much will be said about Mandela as he is remembered. There are so many things to take away from his life, but for me one of the most important was his ability to forgive. There are many horrible things happening in our world, but we all have the capacity to forgive those who wrong us. To be able to forgive requires a great inner strength. Mandela had it and I will never forget it.