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    Posted December 10, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Nelson Mandela: Your memories

    ainszwaidrai and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Remembering Nelson Mandela


    It began in 1979. East German communist Party ordered us to send a protesting post card to Mr. Botha, former Pres. of South Africa. I remember there was an old photo of Madiba taken when he was young. I never heard anything about him. My parents explained to me the situation in RSA at that time. Even though I did not want to support the regime in East Germany, my heart told me to fill the card and send it to Botha.

    Lot of time passes. I grew up. Berlin Wall was no longer a dangerous zone for us. Everything seemed to be possible. The wind of change made an old idea simply achievable. The idea of a peaceful house, called united Europe. The idea came from old philosophers and was taken up by Mr. Gorbatchev.

    February 1990. TV news became the most important source of information. And there was that story:
    Mr. Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island.
    And it seemed to be the second fall of Berlin Wall to me. This was unreal. Tears. We could never imagine it. And it became true. Old deadlocks were wiped off so fast. And we had to learn to live in Freedom, as "colored people" of South Africa had. And a part of me became a citizen of S.A..

    Four years later. I spent a year in Togo and met some black, “colored” and white friends from Swaziland.
    They were telling me about the new South Africa. And this was very similar to that we had experienced in East Germany. To achieve liberty is just a first step. The second step is much more complicated. We knew it. If you lived in chains all of your life, first you need to accustom a new life.

    I was planning a trip to South Africa a long time before I travelled there. And I didn't even know anything about the situation. To get information was complicated in Togo at that time.
    The 26th of April 1994.
    So I did not know that the first free elections for all South Africans took place just when I came to Jo'burg.
    Hotel staff strongly recommends not to go out of the Hotel at that time. So when I wanted to go out I called a taxi cab.
    I wondered why lot of employees of European Union and the UN were in the Hotel. Anything was happening here, I said to me.
    One day I walked along the street and saw political posters of National Party and ANC.
    And people standing in lines in front of wooden huts: Polling stations.
    And I comprehended this situation. I felt so much lucky for them too.
    I have known very exactly how this former oppressed people felt inside. The right to vote became true.
    Same as we experienced on 18th of March 1990. First free elections in Eastern Germany. And German Reunification was the effect of this event. The task for our country was to become united in our hearts. And it has been very difficult to achieve.
    So the people of South Africa have their own Berlin Wall in their country. Apartheid. And it fell down.
    But there are still people who dream of the old status quo. In both of our countries.
    We in Germany haven’t had a figure like Madiba. Sometimes I wish we could be proud of our country as South Africans do. But World Championship of Soccer 1996 in Germany changed our minds.
    This event made it possible that Germans raise their flag without any feelings of shame. National pride wasn’t possible to feel for us. So 2010 Championship took place in South Africa. And there I saw Black and Whites raising their new colorful flag and were feeling proud.
    All of this seems so similar to me. As the event of Falling Berlin Wall keeps in my mind for all of my life, Madiba will stay there too. When I think of Freedom, I always think of Tata Madiba too. He made his Nation being united. He broke down the brackets of a monstrous wall in the minds of so many people.
    May Africa achieve the Ideas of Pan Africanism! As we created a united and peaceful Europe.

    Thank you, Mr. Mandela. Hope to meet you there.

    Gunnar Just
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