Nelson Mandela changed history. He brought democracy to South Africa through his political involvement and became the face of inspiration for a nation.
He died Thursday at the age of 95. Many are reflecting on the legacy of his life.
Even here in Sudbury, the impact he left behind will be felt.
Liana Walker, former president of Laurentian University's African Caribbean Student Association, told Northern Life in an earlier interview that despite the sadness of Mandela's passing, it's easy to find a way to smile.
“It's kind of sad,” she said, “But at the same time, he's done so much. He will be remembered either way. He did so much good.”
While his work has done much to liberate South Africans, Walker said his leadership should be an inspiration to everyone.
“We're losing one of our heroes,” she said. “Someone who has fought so hard to get where we are.”
Former Sudburian Stuart Cryer, who was a video trainer for the African National Congress (ANC) in Zambia in the late '80s, said what made Mandela so remarkable was his unwavering opinions.
“He is an individual who can not be faulted for sticking to his principles,” he said. “He was totally opposed to the cult of the individual.”
Cryer had the opportunity to photograph Mandela when he was at Union United Church in Montreal on a speaking tour. While the tour was passing through, Cryer also had the chance to meet people he had worked with while Mandela was still finishing a jail term.
The first black leader in South Africa, Mandela was at the front of the country's democratic shift. An anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the president of the ANC from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.