Bangalore, June 14: Ten-year-old kids at Rosebank Primary School in Johannesburg feel over-enthusiastic to explain all about the life of ailing South African leader Nelson Mandela.
These kids were not even born before Mandela, an iconic figure in the country's anti-Apartheid struggle, retreated from public life. They never knew much about the Nobel winner in peace apart from giving cards, flowers and get-well messages to his Johannesburg residence praying for his fast recovery as Mandela struggles to recover against lung infection in a hospital.
But they never stopped after just learning that Madiba, as Mandela is popularly known as, was a hero. They began to learn more about his life, not even forgetting to translate the leader's Xhosa name Rolihlahla, which in colloquial terms means "troublemaker".
Mandela's poor background didn't make the kids dejected. They were happy to learn that the man fought all odds and created enough trouble to bring the oppressive white rule to an end and become the father of the 'Rainbow Nation'.
Another kid recalled that Mandela was so poor that his father cut his own trousers to make one for him to attend his first day to school. He even had a string tied to his trousers since he didn't have a belt, added another student.
South African children begin to learn about "Tata" or father Mandela as early as pre-school and by the primary standards, the leader is part of the syllabus along with lessons about Indian independence, featuring Mahatma Gandhi. Both the towering leaders are shown for their good leadership.
South African kids are supposed to learn about the American political system when the subject of democracy is first taught but teachers find it meaningless. They feel the children should first learn about their own country's history and Mandela.
The kids of South Africa feel excited about the icon and know details about his life. Many of them want to become like the great man. The school deserves a credit to try to link the past with the future for therein lies the success of a nation.
Do we Indians do enough on this key aspect?