Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nelson Mandela

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
-Nelson Mandela

Ah, I need to re-read his biography, perhaps this winter break will give me time.

When the Sankofa Drums and Dance group came to perform at our school on Tuesday, as part of the performance, they called Destinee up to the stage to read a poem about rising up and moving on, but knowing your heritage. A sankofa is a bird whose neck faces back toward its body, as if it's always reaching back to assist the molting process. The metaphor in many African communities is the need to look back at history in order to better understand how it has shaped us. When Destinee read the poem onstage, I noticed that she struggled a bit with pronouncing the name "Nelson Mandela", so I asked in 3rd hour if they knew who Nelson Mandela was. They shook their heads, no. While it's something they'll cover in history class, I'm sure, the man is 90 years old and will pass soon, and I think it's crucial that they know who he is and what he accomplished, as one of the most prominent activists of the 20th century.

Anyway, when thinking about it, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, which is the year before most of my students were born. Aye, que rico! Perhaps it's because I was in 8th grade when that happened and have studied his life and work ever since that it came as such a shock to me that my students hadn't yet encountered him.

So, I'll be trying to work him in somehow

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