Illinois Professor Recalls Growing up in South Africa


A professor at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington grew up in South Africa.

He remembers the 1976 student uprising in Soweto, a free Mandela campaign in 1980 and the day he left the United States to go back home to vote for Nelson Mandela.

He talked to WAND's Brigette Burnett about living in South Africa.

"We were staying in this little house, in this town, right next to the police station. First night there at 9 o'clock at night the siren goes off, and I said to my father, what's that? He said, that's a curfew. I said, what's a curfew? He said, that's when all black people have to be out of town," Munro said.

Munro said, he recently found out he also lived near a historic area during the time Mandela was headed to prison.

"When he was captured in 1963, he was captured about five miles from where I was living at the time. I was only five or something at the time," Munro added.

Segregation, social injustice and violence is still and will forever be a part of his memories. Along with the day Mandela changed lives.

Munro said, days leading to the election there were many uncertainties. However on the day election, he said, it was strange that all of the polling stations had long lines. Then it was announced that the African National Congress received the majority of votes and Mandela became President.

"It was an extraordinary sense of relief because it came on the end of a long period of violence. So relief for some and euphoria for others and just seeing Mandela dropping his vote in a box is just an extraordinary thing," Munro added.

Throughout the past 19 years, since the first black South African was voted in, Africans have a lot to be thankful for, but Munro said, what Mandela started isn't finished.

"I think the challenges are actually very very profound now. They were profound when he came out of prison, but they were different types of challenges," Munro told WAND.

The next president of South Africa will have to face these challenges Munro is talking about.

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