South African natives reflect on Nelson Mandela’s lasting impact

Posted on: 11:33 pm, December 5, 2013, by

KANSAS CITY, Mo. –   He spent nearly three decades in prison, fighting for equality. He served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. Nelson Mandela had been in and out of hospitals in recent months.

He was 95 years old as he passed away on Thursday.

Around the globe, and here in Kansas City, many remember Nelson Mandela’s practice of reconciliation and for the way he brought about change while still showing compassion, and forgiveness.

“You can actually feel his compassion that flows through him to you,” Judith Appollis said

Kind, compassionate, and determined.That’s how former South African President Mandela is being remembered in the metro on Thursday.

Appollis is the Director of Graduate Admissions and Internationalization at Park University.

She’s come a long way, from the time  South Africa was segregated and she was seen as inferior because of her skin color. She got her first right to vote at age 38 and holds great love and respect for the man who fought to give her that right.

“He validated my human rights, and just as a person with is forgiving spirit of reconciliation and love for a country,” she said.

Immigration attorney Leon Versfeld recalled how Mandela propelled his nation through an unjust past  and an uncertain future.

“There was bitter hatred between white and black, and what is going to happen to us? But through the remarkableness of this man and his leadership, he has brought a country together,” Versfeld said.

Versfeld thinks the rest of the world could learn a lot from Mandela’s effort.

“Whether or not it’s race related, religion related the legacy of reconciliation is what this man brings to the world,” he said. “He gave us to look past the color, past the strand of your hair, past where you live, where you come from, and brought us all together as one.”

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