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Madiba’s legacy goes far and wide

Last update - Sunday, December 15, 2013, 18:28 By Madeline Rosenberger

Sixteen townships and 31 streets in South Africa have been named after Nelson Mandela in tribute to his achievements in shepherding a new South Africa.

Internationally, Mandela made such an impact that streets, parks and plazas have been named or renamed in honour of the man as far afield as the US, the UK, Brazil, Tunisia and Mauritius. In Dublin, a monument to Mandela was unveiled in Merrion Square.
But his influence goes further than that. Botanists have named flowers after him, and even a nuclear particle discovered by three scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK was named the ‘Mandela particle’.
According to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Madiba (as he is affectionately known) has received more than 1,115 awards and honours worldwide, among them the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Congressional Medal of Honor, more than 115 honorary degrees and over 175 freedoms of cities and honorary citizenships.
His work to end apartheid in South Africa and bring peace and unity to his people has influenced and continues to resonate around the whole world. Metro Éireann spoke to a number of immigrants in Ireland about what Nelson Mandela means to them personally, and to the people of their home countries.
“Nelson Mandela is a nationalist and a hero for Ugandans,” says Daudi Kutta. “I think from our history, Ugandans are very understanding of the struggle and understanding of the campaign to bring change in South Africa.
“I think he had a way – you know it took him so long to achieve change and his vision in South Africa. He said change is gradual, and I think change must be gradual and incremental.
“A lesson is to be learned from Mandela that for change to be meaningful, change must be incremental and you must take gradual steps to make things better.”
Jost Blasberg from Germany has a different perspective. “Coming from a country with a Nazi background, apartheid is definitely a big deal,” he says. “I know that Nelson Mandela stopped apartheid in South Africa and won a Nobel Prize, but on an everyday basis, Mandela doesn’t really mean too much for young people in Germany.”
Tony Ogo of Nigeria says Manela was “a good African, a good example of what African leadership should be.
“Growing up in Africa, he was an inspiration and knew the direction Africa should be in. Personally, he is an inspiration and has helped me to discover myself and make myself better.”
For Kareem Chehayeb from Lebanon, currently studying in the United States, Mandela “is someone I look up to” as a political activist with Boston University’s Anti-War Coalition and Students for Justice in Palestine.
“To Lebanon, and many other Middle Eastern countries, Nelson Mandela symbolises the courage to stand up against any and all forms of injustice, regardless of how dominant these forces are, be it occupation, imperialism, or internal forms of repression,” he says.
Julie George, an American of Indian descent, echoes these sentiments. “Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to all,” she says. “He stands as the beacon of light to those who are oppressed and as a symbol of perseverance.
“He reminds me much of the father figure, Mahatma Gandhi, of India, my home country. Both of these selfless men stood their ground through the face of chaos and uncertainty only to be strengthened more by the voice of their people.
“Personally, Nelson Mandela is a man of courage and steadfast hope. He viewed equality as a right and not a privilege in South Africa and fought incredibly hard to demolish apartheid.”
Sami Khoury of Palestine says his countryfolk “see lots of commonalities with South Africa… from oppression and apartheid to poverty and hopelessness. For me, when I think of Nelson Mandela, I see a revolutionary, a politician and a man of the people. He has always been a symbol of struggle, of hope, perseverance, freedom and justice. He is not only an icon of South Africa but of humanity at large.
Khoury adds: “There are not many people who have influenced the world as much as Nelson Mandela has, but we can all try to follow in his footsteps. Mandela once said: ‘Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation.’”

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