December 11, 2013

Letter: The desire to be free

— Upon hearing about the death of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, I was particularly struck. Why I felt such a pang in my heart for a champion of rights that the violation of occurred over a decade ago half-way across the world felt beyond me. I have known no existence but the American existence, in a society accomplished in tolerance and punctuated by acceptance.

Yet the stone of Mandela’s demise did not merely nick the surface of my heart, but plopped itself within my being, and sat itself there heavy like a stone does. My not having felt the pain of discrimination felt by the South Africans did naught but intensify this feeling.

Because of Nelson Mandela’s efforts, the citizens of South Africa are better off, but in a greater sense, more free.

And that is what this something was I felt upon Nelson Mandela’s death — the fulfillment of the yearning desire of thousands of South Africans, the fulfillment of that same yearning desire that thirsted within the hearts of Americans during the civil rights era and still thirsts within the hearts of the oppressed around the world today, namely, the desire to be free.

Najia Humayun

Tunnel Hill