Nelson Mandela, at age 95, died on Dec. 5, 2013. He was the first president of South Africa after apartheid ended, and he fought for equal rights for his people during the apartheid era. When I was in South Africa, I learned more about what Mandela meant to his country and what an important person he was. He was sick and in the hospital while I was there, and many people thought that he was going to pass away sooner. I thought he might die while we were there and wondered how the country might react.
I wish I could have met Nelson Mandela. He was an amazing man. He spent 27 years in jail because he was convicted for organizing strikes against the government. After spending years behind bars, the apartheid government offered to free Mandela, but he refused because he wanted the government to end apartheid. He’d rather stay in jail while apartheid continued because he wasn’t really free under apartheid.
The fact that he stayed in jail all those years to help his people is really impressive. He must have been really dedicated to his people and ending apartheid. Most people probably would have given up just to get out of jail.
Mandela negotiated a peaceful end to apartheid and helped create a new constitution that gave everyone in the country equal rights. He also forgave the apartheid leaders and his jailers. It must have been extremely hard to forgive the people who kept him locked up. He lost so much of his life because of them.
It made South Africa stronger when Mandela forgave them. I bet it was easier for other people to forgive because of Mandela’s example.
I’ve been listening to reports from leaders around the world reacting to his death. He was a huge role model not only for South Africa but for everyone in the entire world. I wonder if we will ever see another person like Mandela who is willing to give up so much for something as important as ending apartheid.
Sixth-grader at Bay Middle School