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Nelson Mandela - A Great Man Has Passed Into History

Published: 11.12.2013, Updated: 05.03.2017
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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013), one of the most important figures from the last century, died on December 5th, 2013 at the age of 95. He has been a symbol of hope for a better future for South Africa and the world.

A whole world grieves over the loss of a great man. A man who led protests and demonstrations against the S. African government's apartheid policy, who suffered 27 years of imprisonment, who became president in a S. Africa which had at last rejected apartheid and is a symbol of unity for all S. Africans. What made him such a great man that top leaders and celebrities from all over the world will gather together with Mandela's own people in S. Africa to honour his memory?

Nelson Mandela Memorial Service 

Topics for Discussion

No one is indispensable. Yet history is full of individuals whose absence or presence changed the course of human events and altered the fate of nations. Most of these were autocrats whose accumulation of power was itself the reason to fear the vacuum resulting from their departure. But Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday, Dec. 5, at the age of 95, became indispensable because he had dispensed with the things that empowered tyrants and with which they rarely parted: pride, power, anger and vengeance. ( Nelson Mandela - Time World News 5/12/2013 

  1. Discuss the above statement and what it means.
  2. What do you think will happen in South Africa now that Mandela is gone?
  3. Will the legacy of Mandela stand the test of time or not? Why/why not?
  4. It is said that everyone who met with Mandela felt his charisma and moral authority. How much difference can one person make?
  5. Does history create its characters or do characters create history?
  6. Where in the world today would you like to see a new Mandela spring into action?
  7. What does it mean that Mandela never played the race card? What is dangerous about playing the race card?
  8. Mandela felt that there had to be a reconciliation between black and white S. Africans in order for the country to move forwards. Why is this so important in building a future?

Listening Comprehension

Watch the video and answer the questions: Mandela Quiz 

Oral Presentation

Make a short oral presentation (about 5min.) of Nelson Mandela showing how and why he has been such an important influence in South Africa and the world.
There are numerous sources of information on the Internet. Make sure you choose reliable sources. The link above and Nelson Mandela - the Guardian are two examples.

How to make an Oral PresentationOral Presentation