Being South African, my family experienced first hand the impact Nelson Mandela had on the people, politics, and culture of our nation. Although we glorify the past triumphs, the hardships that others have endured are not without lingering memories. During the time of Apartheid, my mom was tear gassed, as she stood pregnant in front of an ice cream shop. The hatred was not only felt within the black community, the whole country suffered as a result. My dad, due to his complexion, couldn’t travel to the same places my mom could; we ended up immigrating to the US in search of a better life.

It was sad to hear the tragic news about Mandela. While in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup, I remember seeing him greeting the crowd during the finals ceremony. His energy, even then, was so powerful and captivating. Mandela was a leader of change; his work taught us that instead of responding to adversity with aggression, learn patience, educate yourself and outsmart them. If world peace had a spokesperson, Mandela would have unquestionably been that man. Every day, I’m proud to be South African, to be witness to what an impact a person from a small country with a dream could have.

We can all start today, be the change you want to see in the world around you. Today we are all South Africa.

Thanks Zane Peck & Nick Spilger

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