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Locals React to Death of Nelson Mandela


Many people around Gainesville are joining others around the world in remembering Nelson Mandela. The South African leader died Thursday at the age of 95.

Mandela is best known for leading the South African anti-apartheid movement against segregation and violence, as well as serving as the first black South African president in 1994. Before he was elected, Mandela was spent 27 years imprisoned for his efforts.

Dr. Hunt Davis, a University of Florida professor emeritus in history and African studies, lived in South Africa during the 1960s, when the apartheid movement was just taking off.

“You just walk around with your eyes open, and you see an African walking along the street. All of a sudden a police van stops. ‘Where’s your papers? They’re not correct.’ (They) put you in the back of the van and haul you off to jail,” Davis said. “You saw the whites only and non-whites only signs. Living there made both my wife and I very aware of that system.”

Dean Michael Paddock, a UF student from South Africa, is pleased with all of the coverage about Mandela, as well as people around the world remembering an integral figure in world history.

“Personally, I appreciate it. It illustrates what a significant figure Nelson Mandela has been not only to South Africa, but to other parts of the world,” Paddock said. “Today should not only be a day of mourning, but a day of celebration for everything he’s done for us.”

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma announced today Mandela’s burial will be held on Dec. 15th. When asked to describe the South African leader in very few words, both Davis and Paddock said, “A true human being.”

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