Our family watched Paul Simon's 1987 Graceland concert from Zimbabwe when the children were still very young. The concert could not take place in South Africa because apartheid laws were still in effect. At the time, our children did not understand what apartheid was. David and I tried to explain it to them. They still did not understand. We left it at that, because that's how it should be. We wanted them to see how unreasonable it was. How wrong it was. How do you explain the forcible and legal segregation of peoples based on race, ethnicity or religion?
Canada may be known for its tolerance, but it does not have a spotless history. Japanese families were interned during World War II. First Nations children were taken from their parents and sent miles away to attend residential schools. Racism still exists and rears its ugly head in everyday conversations and online news discussion boards. What do we do when we encounter racist comments in personal interactions? Do we ignore it, hoping the topic will change? Do we dare to say something and risk an all-out argument, perhaps stoking the fires of bigotry even more?
As we remember the greatness of Nelson Mandela, we are also forced to revisit the evil that was apartheid. The evil that is racism. As with all the evils in history, they must not be forgotten so they will not be repeated.
Here is a video from BBC News, Nelson Mandela death: "Apartheid -- 46 years in 90 seconds."
And here is a clip of Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa, exuding the spirit of South Africa during the Graceland concert: