In the spirit of empowerment and the South African Education and Environment Project's (SAEP) "cradle to career" philosophy, Director Jane Keen asked some of the students in the SAEP Arts Programme how Nelson Mandela inspired them to succeed in life. The answers she got demonstrate with emotion and gratitude how this great man has truly transformed life for the next generation.
Bonani Ngamlana: "Mr. Nelson Mandela was the first black President in South Africa. He proved to many South Africans that the sky is the limit. Mr. Nelson also proved that the brightest light comes from the darkest corner. I never got the chance to talk to him or to see him face to face, but his words that inspired me most are:
"Lift your voice so that your voice can lift the world"."
Samantha Mswewu: "Tata Nelson influenced me and others in a way that we are now free and can go and learn things in other places. It is also thanks to him that I had a chance to express myself to others because we are now one nation and there is no more judging or places where people must not go. Tata Nelson gave us freedom. He told us to be one, and to treat each other as brothers and sisters even if we are not all one colour or from the same religion or country. South Africa is a place for all nations. He told us to fulfil our dreams and to not let go of what we have in our hands, because we can make a change, and change is now. Tata is a hero."
Sinethemba S. Bugqwangu: "Nelson Mandela really influenced me in a positive way because he was a leader that everyone follows. I also want to be a leader and I will not follow the crowd. I will let the crowd follow me. I will sacrifice for the new generation as Tata has done. He influenced me in a way that I also want to be a hero and to be recognized for my good work."
Beauty Suchapha: "For me, Nelson Mandela is a father, mentor and role model because he fought for my freedom. Freedom not only to express my feelings or to have dreams and careers, but freedom to go and achieve my goals, to make the best of what I can achieve. Nelson Mandela has brought hope into my life even though I have never met him. He brought hope to me just by reading about him and by seeing him on television."
Unathi Ntlungu: "Tata Nelson Mandela has influenced my life and made a change in the lives of many people in South Africa. He fought for us, struggling for us through difficult things. Now I have more freedom, rights and freedom of speech. Today we can do anything we want as white people can, and in the 70s we were not allowed to do. If it wasn’t for the life of Tata Mandela in jail I wouldn’t be part of SAEP which made a change in my life and showed me many opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had."
Mzwakhe Pasindlela: "I learned a lot from him. He showed me how to survive life, no matter what challenges I might face. To survive you must never give up. I even learnt that you must forgive and have peace. Mandela spent almost half his life in jail but he came back and still forgave those people who arrested him and made a peaceful relationship with them. And now I can go everywhere I want to go. May his legacy live on. He is a hero to me."
One of SAEP’s university students, Afikile Noluroto, chose this quote of Mandela’s:
"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes naturally to the human heart."
Afikile said, "This quote has taught me that there are no races. There is only one race, the human race. Hate is something that comes after a traumatic experience. It does not come naturally. That means it’s something that is not within us. I know that hating someone is not genuine. It’s only to numb us for the real pain. I know that love is something in each and everyone. We just have to choose how to show it."