Every week I publish my very own Kev’s Column On-Line in which I take a look at an issue in the news. This week I was due to write my monthly column for the Torbay Times and re-wrote it in reaction to the news Nelson Mandela had died:
At Christmas it is easy to forget amidst all the excitement of making preparations, buying presents and sending cards that it is a time when we remember the birth of a man who never lead an army or held an office, but who changed the world.
The news in December is usually full of what the most popular toy will be and the usual predictions of traffic or weather chaos, whilst many Churches try to remind us of the reason for the season. This year is different as the news is being dominated by the effect one man, Nelson Mandela, had on the world.
It is easy to forget that for many years Nelson Mandela was demonised and rejected by the Government of a country that now reveres him as Father of the Nation. Denounced as a terrorist he spent 27 years in a maximum security jail, whilst the forces of Apartheid attempted to crush any resistance to a system that meant life was based on the colour of your skin, not the content of your character.
Many white South Africans feared that an end of apartheid would see the victors meet out rough justice to those who had oppressed them. As the world waited to watch him walk from jail many were still unsure what type of man they would see, following what was a history changing speech to the then all-white South African Parliament by the last President of the old South Africa F W De Klerk.
Yet far from lead the calls for vengeance, Mandela used his position to lead the calls for reconciliation and bringing the nation together, epitomised by the iconic image of him wearing the Springbok Shirt to present the Rugby World Cup. What had once been the symbol of white South Africa, was now the pride of a free South Africa.
Sometimes we may all believe it is not possible to make a difference to what we see around us. Yet we can make a difference if we get involved. Why not make a New Year’s Resolution that in 2014 you will try to do just that.