Like Georgia, Nelson Mandela has been on my mind lately. Alright, truthfully, I think about him a lot all the time, as I’ve had a minor crush on him as far back as I can remember. My husband finds it quite amusing that he must compete with a 93-year old for my affections. In these times of political polarity in the United States, though, Nelson (I agree, it’s creepy that I think that we’re on a first-name basis) emerges in my daydreams most often for some of the things that he did as a nation builder in post-apartheid South Africa.
Let me start by saying that I have been to South Africa three times now, but have written very little about it. By far, the most important of my visits was from 1993 to 1994. Living in Johannesburg, I worked as an intern for a local non-profit called the Grasmere Community Development Trust. I was there from December through July. South Africa’s first fully-representative democratic election was in April, and Nelson was inaugurated as president in May (an inauguration which I attended). I was also an accredited election observer for South Africa’s electoral commission.Continue Reading