Nelson Who?

Having just watched celebrity “Come Dine With Me” I am sitting here in shock as Zola Budd, South African athlete, has revealed that she didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was when she ran the 1984 Olympic 5000 metres at the age of 17.

Having grown up with Nelson Mandela’s name in our household, I thought that everyone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s knew who he was, especially if you lived in South Africa. Clearly white students did not learn of the man who fought their regime.

This has made me wonder whether today’s generation of Indian’s know who Mahatma Gandhi is? Or American’s know who Malcolm X is?

I appreciate that history and current affairs education must have been very different and censored during the 70′ s and 80’s in South Africa, but I am still shocked.


4 Comments to “Nelson Who?”

  1. Zola Budd is a lying racist.

  2. I’m sure young Indians would know who Gandhi is but I’d be less sure of young British Asians.

    I don’t think it is so shocking that Zola Budd did not know who Nelson Mandela was when she was younger. I don’t know if the international media gave more attention to his cause than internal media and the outlets for knowledge were terribly narrow in 1984. I was into Amnesty International as a teen but only knew of Nelson Mandela because of what my older sister told me and through MTV. Loads of people are not interested in political causes or current affairs and that’s okay, it’s great if people get involved but I don’t think we should judge people if they do not.

  3. I would be surprised if Zola Budd did know who Nelson Mandela was at 17. I only learned about apartheid and Nelson Mandela when one day in school in Modern Studies class, I got bored and started flicking through chapters of my textbook that we weren’t part of the curriculum.

    And if she was running in the Olympic Games at the age of 17, I’m guessing she would have been training in every spare minute she had, not watching TV or listening to the radio.

    You also have to remember that in South Africa, there weren’t just problem with racism about white colonisers oppressing the indigenous population, it’s just as much a problem between different tribes. If you look internally at political movements like the ANC, they have had huge problems trying to get the Zulus to agree with them. The fact that Nelson Mandela was Xhosa was a big problem for lots of black South Africans at the time.

    Finally, I didn’t watch the programme, but I’m assuming that the reason Zola Budd brought up the topic of South Africa was that she was a little ashamed of not knowing who Nelson Mandela was. She has rectified that and we should congratulate her for opening her mind.

  4. Not everyone takes an active interest in politics. Zola Budd had little time for anything beyond running, and South African TV just didn’t mention Mandela, at least not frequently. I watch the program and it showed Zola is clearly no racist, but rather a dull personality.

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