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jacqueline biollo

His name was Rolihlahla | By Jacqueline Biollo

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Recently, I had the opportunity to share the legacy, observances, and messages of peace of Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) with my Communications students from the Northern Institute of Technology (NAIT). I invited them to reflect on Mr. Mandela’s legacy to make peace and build a better tomorrow. Although I’ve excluded my students’ names out of respect and anonymity – I am proud of their efforts to find meaning and purpose based on Mandela’s campaign for humanity.

The life story of Nelson Mandela is inspiring. Forced to change his religious name in favour of an English name, which was customary among Africans, undoubtedly due to the British bias of the education system, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became a South African anti-apartheid activist who was jailed for his fight for the rights of equality (prison number 466/64 (1964)). While Nelson was imprisoned, his wife also led people to fight against discrimination and suppression and for freedom.

Growing up, Mandela listened and reflected on stories of his brave ancestors who were passionate about getting peace for all. Mandela’s activism and advocacy were his way of doing something similar for the betterment of the people. Even after being imprisoned, Nelson’s moral leadership grew. After retiring, Mandela continued to support and establish organizations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Institution for Education and Rural Development, and the 46664 Campaign. After his death, the foundations continue to function and champion the work of his advocacy. Mandela will be remembered as a true icon and leader.

My students commented that individuals like Nelson Mandela ‘are the real heroes we should know about’ [although not to disregard the ones showcased on Tik Tok and social media reels nowadays]. ‘We should learn from [history and documentaries of individuals like Nelson Mandela]. People must know there is no age [limit] to succeed [and make a difference in the world]’.

“Your journey tells the real hard work behind your success.”

A leader has a vision that they pursue with vigor, passion, honesty, and trust. They earn the support and loyalty of others through consistency, communication, and collaboration. Although Nelson Mandela faced multifarious challenges, he remained steadfast in his campaign for freedom and a political culture void of racial segregation based on skin colour. Mandela’s anti-apartheid campaign sought to ensure that South Africa was not dominated politically, socially, and economically through minoritarianism.
Jacqueline Biollo is a government relations consultant and university educator. She shares the sentiment of one of her students who wrote, as part of their reflection, ‘What’s even crazier to me thinking about the people who still have that racist mindset, whites being ‘superior’, and how they can see someone of colour and think that way.’ As a human being, do what you can to care for all humanity.



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