By Mary Baumgard (USA), Nonhlanhla “Nono” Nyathi (Zimbabwe), and Britt Ortmann (USA) – Students of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Ms. Ortmann and Baumgard are study abroad students from the College of St. Benedict, MN.
Nineteen years ago, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Both men were awarded for their efforts to bring Apartheid to an end. This brought about enormous change in South Africa, but 19 years later their dreams, to some extent, remain just dreams as remnants of Apartheid still linger.
As we talked to Nono, she told us of the continuing separation by race present in classrooms at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. This separation is not imposed by hatred or any tangible thing, but because of each person’s inner struggle. Bitterness, embarrassment, awkwardness, and sadness bring about this divide, and it leaves students asking, “Where do we go from here?”
Desmond Tutu said, “If we have loved while we were alive, there is life after death here – our love will go on for generations.” Seeking and giving forgiveness is difficult, but this is the only way South Africa will see the true change Mandela and de Klerk dreamed of. Each person must go on a personal journey and become comfortable with forgiving, and with accepting forgiveness. Once this begins, perhaps it will be possible to see the real but small changes in society and people’s lives. Then, hopefully the love and acceptance created will outlive all those who worked – and work – for a better South Africa.