“Hamba kahle Tata Mandela, uThixo akusikelele”: Students and Faculty Reflect on the Life of Nelson Mandela

Bongani Mbatha, Xolani Buthelezi, and Neil Kodesh share their thoughts on the life of Nelson Mandela in an article published this morning by InsideUW. Bongani and Xolani are graduate students in our department; Neil is the director of the African Studies Program and a professor of African history.

Some Excerpts:

To black South Africans like myself, he meant hope. He gave us hope, for instance, that a black South African can study the arts, sciences, social sciences, or any other subject. . . As South Africans, together we say: “Hamba kahle Tata Mandela, uThixo akusikelele” (“Farewell Father Mandela, God bless you”).

—Bongani Mbatha, Ph.D. student in African Languages and Literature

I saw Dr. Nelson Mandela when I was in 5th grade at an African National Congress Rally in Newcastle. He was addressing thousands of ANC members, specifically [about] the importance of education. It’s when I heard one of his famous phrases, “Education is a powerful tool that could change the world.”

—Xolani Buthelezi, M.A. student in African Languages and Literature

Mandela refused to accept the status quo and paid dearly for his political activism. But he did so with a sense of respect for the humanity of his political opponents that distinguished him from others. This is the reason he became an international symbol of human dignity and hope for a better future.

—Professor Neil Kodesh, History Department

You can read their full comments, as well as those from others on campus, at http://www.news.wisc.edu/22385