Saturday 25 November 2017

Kevin Bakhurst: From a dark place into a brighter future

Kevin Bakhurst recalls how Nelson Mandela's influence has spanned generations and still inspires hope

MY mother took me and my family back to Cape Town for her 70th birthday. She wanted to show my children where she had been born and had grown up until the age of 19, when she left South Africa for a new life in England. Standing at the top of Table Mountain, she showed my children what she had shown me 40 years before. Far across the bay on a clear day you can see Robben Island – the Island where Nelson Mandela spent 20 years in prison.

As a six-year-old, I had stood in the same spot. In her still clear South African accent, my mother told me about Mandela. How he had stood up for his people and his beliefs; why he had hated apartheid and what that terrible system meant for black people in South Africa; how he had faced the death penalty but was instead sent to prison on that island where he was destined to spend the rest of his life.

When we returned to our home in England, she showed me the one black-and-white photograph of a well-built, bearded black man: that was the face of Nelson Mandela and the only image we knew for many years.

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