Nelson Mandela – People’s Inspirational Leader

Yesterday, I was watching BBC’s reports about the celebrations of the 20th anniversary that Nelson Mandela was freed from his prolonged prison days.

South Africa’s leader Nelson Mandela walked out as a free man for the first time on February 11, 1990, after spending 27 years in prison. Mandela’s freedom energized South African’s people’s fights to end the apartheid system in the country.

Many people including prominent leaders in Cape Town took commemorative walk from the prison yesterday, as Nelson Mandela did 20 years ago. People said that they came back to pay back their gratitude to Mandela. And they went back to the prison – to  live up the spirit which helped them in fighting against the racial discrimination in 20 years ago.

Mandela’s strong resistance and his struggles had inspired many countries fighting for the same cause.

The momentum – Mandela walked out of the prison as a free man with an unbowed soul, after being arrested for 27 years – gave a fresh hope indeed for the people around the world battling a long fight for justice.

I still remembered how my family from a small village, Burma, which is thousands miles away from Cape Town, had thrilled over the news of Mandela’s freedom on that day.

I was still too young to understand about the importance of Mandela’s cause to make a corrupted system correct. Yet, I had been familiar with the name of Mandela. His name and his long journey in prison had been often popped up in conversations over my family dinners.

I don’t remember that I was in Grade two or three when he was freed. What I could recall vividly was-  my family was having our usual family time together – sitting on a couch around the radio, and listening to the evening news of BBC Burmese program. I was putting my head on my father’s laps, and my legs on my mom’s – teasing around, rather than paying attention to the news. At one point, my father’s face turned into seriousness and paid more attention to the news. “Wow, Nelson Mandela’s free. He’s free,” he murmured again.

Next day, I was in class – spreading the BBC news and telling friends the story of Mandela – like a story of brave princes in the comic books I read. A few months after, one of my teachers, who helped me, and two other students, with our English and Math lessons every evening, asked us an unusual question (in my country, it is not very usual that teachers ask students about either related or unrelated questions, outside of the contents of the textbooks ). “If you can choose one foreign country to travel, which country would you like to choose? And Why?”

I answered promptly “South Africa.” She asked – “Why?” I was a bit shy, and unclear, if it was appropriate to say so, but I answered. “Because…, I want to meet Nelson Mandela, and say ‘hi’ to him.” She smiled and nodded.

One of my friends also said happily – “Me too. I want to go to South Africa, but it was because in the movies I see, there were many ‘Tarzans live  there, and I can enjoy canoeing in the rivers.”

The other said that he wanted to go to China to visit Great Wall.

Today, I looked the stream of archive videos on BBC news about the event that I heard on the radio 20 years ago. It was really amazing to see how the cheerful crowd gathered to greet their leader who walked out the prison in sound and firm spirit.

I have not fulfilled my childhood dream, but I believe in Mandela’s dream. I live by with the dream. I am positive that I hope I can visit his land one day, if possible, I would defiantly love to have a chance to say ‘hi’ to him, as I dreamed. It may take 27 years for me to be able visit there or may be a few years after. Who knows?

I do wish for Nelson Mandela, the World’s beloved leader, for his health and to live long for many many years more.

Mandela is the living history that we learn not to make mistakes. Mandela is the man whom we usually go back to find hope for our prolonged battles for justice. By all means, Mandela is the world’s inspirational living history.


About Wai Phyo Myint

Wai Phyo Myint is a senior at Green Mountain College, majoring in Political Journalism. She is now in Cambodia doing her senior studies and volunteering as an Communications/Advocacy strategy intern with International Labour Organiations in Phnom Penh.
This entry was posted in Blog posts, Burma/Myanmar, Global Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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