I was in music class, singing some silly song or other with the rest of the fifth graders. Somehow an announcement came. I can’t remember whether it was over the intercom, or a messenger came from the office. In my memory it is a messenger from the office with a note, but that memory doesn’t feel reliable. The music teacher wept. That part I know happened for sure. Apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial segregation and minority white rule, was over.
I cried too. I didn’t know what Apartheid was. I wasn’t sure whether I was crying for a happy thing or a sad thing. The teacher explained about Apartheid. It was foreign to me, sitting in that music room with the children mostly of engineers and machinists from around the world. We learned about Nelson Mandela. I never did know what connection my music teacher had to South Africa or Apartheid or Nelson Mandela to make her weep.
I understand there are many views of Mr. Mandela and the methods he used to achieve the successes he had. Many in my parent’s generation, for example, have a completely different view. Regardless, he has been a hero during the time I have known of him.
Nelson Mandela died today at the age of 95.