I had just just turned fourteen, and had started high school. It was just another day, and I was waiting for my mom to pick me up from school as usual. However, this time she was smiling a lot more. "What's up?", I asked "Nelson Mandela was released today!". WOW. There certainly was a buzz around the city.
Of course, not everyone shared the same positive attitude. Perhaps they thought this amazing man should have been locked up for more than 27 years. For a lot of people, panic was the first thing that came rushing through their veins. "What now?" Many South Africans thought there was going to be a civil war in the country. However, that was not to be.
As Mandela was released and he walked out the door to meet the rest of the country, his fist pumped into the air, and everyone cried, "VIVA!" What a moment!
Back at school the next day - things got exciting. History class livened up. I remember our teacher telling us we were living through history. She made us realize how priveledged we were to be around during that time. Coming from England, I know Mrs Wilkinson was just as excited.
For those who are older than me - in their 50's and 60's - they will definitely remember the apartheid struggles. Unfortunately, some were pro the separation, which caused havoc, and others stood up for what they believed in. The rest of the country realized if they did anything they would also be locked up.
At the time of writing, Nelson Mandela is waiting for his 95th birthday to come around. Nobody knows if the day or even the hour will come, because his health is in critical condition. One can only hope that he is in peace during this time, especially after what he has done for so many people in his lifetime.
One would also have to assume that Madiba (his clan name) is an obvious fighter. Not many people would be able to be subjected to such harsh conditions, working in mines in Robben Island, where he was held prisoner for some time. Surviving so long, working in a place like that is truely remarkable. Mandela was a boxer in his youth, and we all know he did not give up on the things that he believed in.
One can see the love and respect that so many people have for this man, when you look outside the hospital with hoards of well wishers, carrying positive messages. Doves were released, flowers were scattered about, and many prayers were sent, especially to the family.
My dad, as acting managing director of the newspapers, was fortunate enough to meet up with Madiba at one point. A photo of my dad looking completely speechless, shaking hands with Mandela is a familar sight to what many go through when they meet up with him. The famous words, "How do you do" always followed the hand shake, however, these four words were completely genuine - not something you hear from your cashier who has been trained like a parrot.