Home South Africa “We intend to be what you have asked us to be, Madiba”: Reflections from South Africa

“We intend to be what you have asked us to be, Madiba”: Reflections from South Africa

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Last Updated on December 11, 2013 by

The passing of Nelson Mandela has been felt all over the world as people and nations come together to mourn and celebrate his legacy. It is an emotional time in South Africa, as we heard from our Resident Director, Hestea, and many of our program alumni.


Hestea de Wet, Resident Director, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

11 December 2013

This is one of those days where society is watching everything we say about Nelson Mandela. As much as our thinking is channeled toward a particular direction, I believe we can think further than just celebrating or mourning his life.

When considering the indescribable legacy that he left for all South Africans people, I am reminded of some of my favourite Madiba quotes:

“As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

“It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

The role that he played in our country, in showing what it means to forgive, creating peace, fighting for freedom in South Africa and Africa, striving for justice in the world, and his commitment to children and young people will never be denied.

The world came to South Africa to mourn and pay tribute to him in such a beautiful way. Banks and restaurants have closed for the day, we are wearing “Proudly South African” shirts, and driving slowly with Mandela posters and flags in our cars.

We are dancing; we are singing and celebrating his life and his liberating sense of forgiveness.

We intend to be what you have asked us to be, Madiba.

Your rainbow nation.

Hamba kahle Tata Madiba, your dreams are safe in our hands.

Hestea de Wet



Ashley Lazarre, AIFS South Africa Spring ’13

11 December 2013

Ubuntu (oo-buun-tooZulu/Xhosa) is a Nguni Bantu term (literally, “human-ness”) roughly translating to “human kindness”

Hi Hestea,

I hope you are well. I wanted to drop you an email to know how you were doing as well as everyone else in your environment. I was very upset by Nelson Mandela’s death and I could not stop thinking about the affect it has on the people I know and the country in general.

Reflecting back on our conversation before I left, during our meeting with Ashlee, you mentioned that in the next six months I will value and realize the good of my experience in South Africa and, in fact, today I consider it the best experience of my life. I can never measure how much I have changed and grown since I left, so I am thankful for all that you did during my experience there. Thanks to LSCE, I am applying to do public service in Ghana for a year with a non-profit organization after I graduate. My decision to follow this path has absolutely been influenced by my experience.

It was a naive decision to get the word Ubuntu tattooed on my shoulder, until I realized that I am now living that life. This email is tell you that I did not forget about you and South Africa. Instead I have been developing into the woman that my experience shaped me to be.

Best Regards,




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