Boston College Expert: Legacy of Nelson Mandela
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Associate Professor of Sociology
Dr. Magubane is a South Africa native who lived in her country while Nelson Mandela was president. She taught sociology at the University of Cape Town for two years and was a researcher for two years. Much of her work is focused on Southern Africa. She is the author of Bringing the Empire Home: Imagining Race, Gender, and Class in Britain and Colonial South Africa, which analyzes the historical emergence of race, gender, and class both as conceptual entities and as ideological systems. She is also the co-editor of Race, Gender and the Status of Black South African Women in the Academy (University of South Africa Press) and Post modernity, Postcoloniality, and African Studies (Africa World Press). In addition to working on three more books, Dr. Magubane’s writings have appeared in several publications. Her areas of specialization include social theory, sociology of post-coloniality, race and ethnicity, globalization, race and popular culture, gender and sexuality, and the sociology of African societies. She also holds a courtesy appointment in the department of African and African Diaspora Studies.
“He was unquestionably South Africa’s George Washington,” says Boston College Associate Sociology Professor and South Africa native Zine Magubane. “He was the father of the nation’s struggle.”
Mandela, imprisoned on Robben Island in 1963, became a symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength as he consistently refused to compromise his political position in exchange for freedom. With the world watching in awe and wonder, Mandela was released from prison in 1990, then led the way in peacemaking efforts during the tense transition which saw the end of the apartheid system. The civil rights hero shared the Nobel Peace Prize with then president F.W. de Klerk in 1993, and made history the following year when he was elected South Africa’s first black president.
“Everywhere he went he was revolutionary and forward thinking,” says Dr. Magubane, who met Mandela and taught sociology in Cape Town while he was president. “He believed that we should air what happened in the past and reconcile not with what happened, but with one another and go forward.”
Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation and reaching across the aisle helped heal the deep scars apartheid left behind.
“The legacy lives on,” adds Dr. Magubane. “That movement Mandela built is still very much alive and many of the people he was with, who grew up under that movement, are still occupying positions of power today. So by no means is his legacy over.”
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