by the Rev. Kevin Sauls,
Senior Pastor of Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, CA
Published in Faith in Action, The General Board of Church & Society, UMC

Nelson Mandela

Growing up in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was a mystery man to many of us. The apartheid government did all in its assumed power to either erase him from, and/or re-interpret him in the second-hand pedagogical discourse we had access to. Moreover, the government took an extreme revisionist disposition towards the movement for freedom and dignity for all South Africans.
For many of us, there was education in the classrooms, and education in the room called life. Education for us in the room called life was characterized by discrimination and dehumanization, and enforced by 

the Rev. Kevin Sauls

oppression and marginalization. The education in the room called life had us going from the shacks we lived and worshiped in, to the backyards we laughed, cried and sought safety in, to the dusty streets and soccer fields we played on.
Through banned books, outlawed curriculum and whispering voices, Nelson Mandela transitioned from a mystery man to a man on a mission that was informed by a movement to restore dignity and equality to everyone, and Ubuntu in all the land.