Thursday, the world lost a celebrated civil rights icon with the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Friday, those whose lives he touched are remembering his vast accomplishments. One of them lives in the metro.
Born and raised in South Africa, but now living in Waukee, a song from back home reminds Yolanda Ally of when her school choir sang for the former president.
“It was like a privilege that we got to see him he was just a very friendly man.”
She was a teenager when she shook Nelson Mandela’s hand. What he told her in that brief moment has stuck with her ever since.
“He said you guys are the future of South Africa,” says Ally.
The future for South Africa meant racial equality and during Mandela’s fight for human rights a lesson was learned.
“He taught us how to love and how to forgive,” says Ally. “It’s like we were all one, black and whites together and we look at each other as humans.”
Drake Political and International Relations professor, Debra DeLaet says his activism was the most important factor about his legacy.
“He was a transformational leader and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. He was one the greatest states persons in all of history at a global level.”
A piece of history and legacy Ally hopes will never fade. Last December she and her family visited Robbens Island where Mandela was imprisoned. Since his passing, it’s hard for her to imagine South Africa without the former president she says the same goes for the rest of the world.
“It’s not just south Africa that’s mourning it’s the whole world because he make a great impact on everybody.”
Mandela was 95-years-old.