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Mandela's legacy in black and white

Rochester, NY -- It was a torturous upbringing for Zozo Laird.

Her 29-year-old brother was executed during the tumultuous segregation of South Africa's apartheid. Laird was in exile for 27 years.

In 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Laird saw him speak in the United States.

She cried tears of joy watching and listening to a man who would be the first democratically elected black South African, and the man who would bring apartheid to an end.

His death Thursday has filled Laird with grief.

"It leaves just a big hole, a big hole in my heart and then not being home with my people, being there, my heart is heavy right now with his loss," said a tearful Laird.

Jan van Aardt is not mourning in the same way, nor were his years living under apartheid and then after apartheid similar to the experience of Laird. He is white and lived on the favorable side.

"The realization that there are other people that did not benefit from the system that I benefited from," said van Aardt. "And how they would react to the sudden change in power (to a democracy) sort of took hold of the country, was a big question to me."

The questions and concerns held by him were quickly answered.

"The way that Nelson Mandela handled this with forgiveness, with acceptance, integrative spirit was just tremendous," said van Aardt.

It's a sad time for South Africa, and both Laird and van Aardt have concerns about the ability for leaders to further Mandela's efforts and build a lasting equality and prosperity throughout South Africa.

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Washington Times