Mandela filled his country with hope
Our driver, Michael, was hopeful and excited about his country’s future, even as he drove us by the squalor of Cape Town Flats in Cape Town, South Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people lived in poverty. The year before, in 1994, Nelson Mandela had become the first democratically elected black president of South Africa.
Michael was a young, white Afrikaner whom my wife and I had hired to show us the Cape Town region before we met up with a group from the Sedgwick County Zoo for a trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe. The feeling of hope and reconciliation was palpable everywhere, even as the country faced monumental problems.
South Africans black, white and brown knew what was special about Mandela. Following the examples of other great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela was able to peacefully lead his country out of its darkest hours.
South Africa and the world still face many problems. In this season of peace and hope, the life of Mandela should be a shining example of how, with courage, compassion and reconciliation, no problem is insurmountable.
WILLIAM C. SKAER
Masters of denial
Regarding “Would mourns Nelson Mandela, dead at 95” (Dec. 6 Eagle): I join in the mourning of Mandela, as well as the celebration of a life so committed to the long walk to freedom and so devoid of bitterness after 27 years as a political prisoner.
It is important to remember that the United States had Mandela on its terrorist watch list until 2008, 18 years after his release from prison. In my opinion, this country has no idea how racist we are and how “white privilege,” along with white money, still rules in the United States, just like in apartheid South Africa.
We are all masters of denial and self-deceit. No wonder we support the Israeli government’s racism and continued violations of international law. No wonder we continue to practice “targeted assassination,” so often inflicting tragedy upon innocent civilians with our increasing use of drone attacks.
We praise Mandela with words, but our actions speak a louder and clearer story of violence and racism. I pray that our country will make decisions based on our hopes for justice rather than upon our fears of “terrorism” and the loss of white power and white money.