When former Andover resident Temba Maqubela learned of Nelson Mandela’s death on Thursday, the former black South African resident went home and changed into a black and gold shirt.
“People asked me if I was mourning because of the black clothing, but I said no because there was gold in it,” said the former dean of faculty and assistant head for academics at Phillips Academy in Andover. “I thought of looking at his passing as a celebration of his life despite the sadness you feel. Yes there is sadness, but mourning will come in phases with tears of joy and sadness.”
Maqubela wanted to celebrate Mandela, a family frien, so he took his grandmother’s memoirs, “Remembrances” off the shelf, and reread the two letters tucked inside from Mandela, thanking her for visiting him in prison.
Maqubela, now the headmaster at the prestigious Groton School, shared the letters with several of his students and sang songs about Mandela yesterday.
It was one of the several ways locals paid tribute to Mandela, the former president of South Africa who spent 27 years in prison because of his work to end apartheid in that country. Mandela died Thursday at 95 due to complications from pneumonia.
Stephen Russell, a professor of history and government at Northern Essex Community College, showed students a video clip about Mandela.
“It got us thinking about those days when he changed the country and showed what could be done by one person,” Russell said.
Russell admired Mandela’s sense of reconciliation after spending 27 years for his political beliefs.
“His willingness to talk to his adversaries and work with them was truly remarkable,” Russell said. “That’s really leadership — to go to those that kept you in jail and work with them.”
Russell said Mandela will be known as the founding father of the new South Africa, much like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the U.S.