The Practical Radical

May 9th, 1994 – A great day in history | May 9, 2010

On May 9, 1994 Nelson Mandela was named President of South Africa, ending the apartheid era which began some 342 years ago when white’s settled in the cape.

“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered,” he declared, “We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”

In the late 80’s and early 90’s I was involved with an agency in Canada struggling against apartheid, and proudly wore a ANC t-shirt, which honestly not many people really understood. Though my role was only as an educator, and I realize I could never understandĀ  what it mean to live under such a system, I was none-the-less inspired by the struggle, and in awe of the man.

I have since had the honor of meeting ex-President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano, a contemporary of Mandela’s, and a winner of the Moe Ibrahim Award for Good Governance in Africa. The presence of this man – it is hard to explain – calm, wise, powerful in a way that lifts people up – it is what I would imagine Mandela to be like. You can read an excellent interview done by Lee-Anne with President Chissano at WUF V in Nanjing, China in her newsletter or in UN-HABITAT’s quarterly publication Urban World.

Though I doubt I will ever meet Mandela, his life has inspired me, and challenge me to attempt to embody and act on the values he espouses.

A great day in history – a good day to remember.

ps. a great resource regarding Mandela can be found on the NY Times website


Posted in Africa, Development

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    Practical things that make me radical

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