A message to the boys on Nelson Mandela, South Africa's history & love.

Boys this is going to be really difficult for you to understand and I hope that you read this without judgement and with an open mind. Actually no, don't have an open mind. I'm sure that you've heard about apartheid by now, but in summary...  When I was your age... Kids of colour - black, indian, colored, mixed races were not allowed to come to my school or almost any school where white kids went. 

Kids of colour weren't allowed to swim in the same pools as white kids. Or go to the same beaches. Kids of colour were not allowed to go to the same restaurants, and some of the same shops or Churches. People of colour were not allowed upon the streets or certain 'white' areas of town after a certain time of day. Our maids and nannies had to carry dompas or passbooks around with them to state that they had permission from their 'whites' or employers to be on the street or run an errand.

It's horrible - all of it is awful and while I vaguely remember that world (I was ten years old when apartheid finally ended) I was never really part of it. My parents were different and we socialized with all sorts of awesome people. As kids we were sort of hidden from a lot of what was going on, and I don't remember anyone ever telling me that I shouldn't play with a black or Indian child at school because we didn't have the option. They were just not there to play with. A lot of decisions were made on behalf of us kids by grown ups, politicians and governments that 'knew better'. 

I'm so ashamed of all of it, even though I wasn't directly involved and my parents didn't instill any bad values in me - I am just ashamed on behalf of South Africa in general. I think everyone is.

Nelson Mandela was obviously a very warm, forgiving, intelligent and kind man. He was also a brilliant politician, and led the negotiations on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC) with FW de Klerk to abolish apartheid and allow multi-racial elections. This was back in 1994, when my biggest problem was getting the Birthing Barbie. Mr Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president and with that ended apartheid. I'm not going to get in to a history lesson here on the Afrikaner Nationalists or the National Party, but thanks to him you live in a better world with richer culture, diversity, opportunity and integrity. Thanks to him (and others) you live in a country that is free.

The whole country is in mourning because Nelson Mandela has passed away. Granted, he was 95 years old and has lived an incredible life, but I don't know if South Africa is ready to let go of him - the father of our nation. You're only 3 and 4 and I can't explain any of this to you at the moment. There is so much going on right now and all you want to do is watch Spider-Man, because you're 3 and 4 and that's just what you do. I hadn't even thought about it before today  ; how I would ever explain apartheid to you. I wonder how different things will be in your generation, because you (and millions of other toddlers) are walking in to brand new South Africa with no direct history, hang ups or discrimination. I hope that you won't be judged on behalf of our ancestors and I hope that you'll grow up in an environment that is safe, honest and fair.

Thank you for suffering on behalf of our country, Madiba and thank you for fighting for everyone's right to a democracy. I never met you, but I didn't need to. You are a part of my life every single day regardless. Thank you for giving my sons a better future, and so that they may live a life of honor. May your soul go gently Mr Mandela. May your warmth and kindness disseminate throughout South Africa for generations to come.