Happy Birthday Madiba!
When thinking about South Africa some of us (myself included) immediately envision the country’s beautiful national parks and sub-tropical climate. During the process of choosing to study in South Africa I had nearly no knowledge of the country’s political history, and barely even knew what Apartheid was. Scratch that. I didn’t know what Apartheid meant or was AT ALL.
Having now spent a year living, studying and traveling throughout Southern Africa I can say that I more fully understand the history of this incredibly beautiful and resilient, spirited region. This is why I am writing this post today, a day that is celebrated across South Africa and the African continent.
Today marks the 94th birthday of South Africa’s beloved Nelson Mandela, otherwise known around the country as Madiba or tata (Xhosa for ‘Father’). As a former political activist for the African National Congress (ANC) who went on to become President of the then newly founded Republic of South Africa, Mandela is adored worldwide for his wisdom, calm demeanor, and profound passion to alleviate poverty and inequality across the globe.
Mandela was kicked out of the University of Fort Hare for speaking out against unjust university policies, risked his life towards the struggle for freedom from the oppressive Apartheid regime, and spent 27 years in a tiny cell on Robben Island. After being released and then elected President in 1994, he told his fellow citizens, “The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.” (Inaugural Speech, May 9, 1994)
In honor of our students just beginning their semesters across the Southern African region, some of whom, like me two years ago, may have limited knowledge of the region’s history, we at Interstudy would like to send our best wishes to one of the most inspiring men of our generation. Happy Birthday Madiba and many happy returns!