The city remembers ‘Madiba’, as Nelson Mandela was fondly called, in its own ways. From free hair cuts for children to focused anti-AIDS campaigns, many people in the city have been influenced by the inspirational leader’s life and remember him fondly.
“It was my dream to be able to cut his hair one day. I even wrote a letter to his advisors in 2003-04. But, then I did not have enough money to travel and there were visa issues as well,” recalls M Lakshminarasimaiah. However, he went on to hold free hair cutting camps for children on Mandela’s birthday in the following years along with other camps to increase awareness of cancer and AIDS.
A barber, Lakshminarasimaiah said Mandela had been a great influence on him. “He gave up 27 years of his life and did not even want revenge when he was released and came to power. Instead, he worked for peace and achieved it. He was truly one of the world’s greatest leaders and not unlike Gandhi,” he said.
“He had no love for power. He gave up his post so gracefully and let someone else rule his country. Who would do that in India or anywhere else,” he added.
For the hundreds of students studying in the city, the news of Mandela’s demise brought a sense of sadness. “He was a leader that people should learn from. South Africa saw peace even in an age of wars and politics. It is a very sad day for Africa and the world too,” said Robert Manzi, a Rwandan student.
“He was truly a leader who taught the entire world. Now he is gone. We will always remember him and what he stood for,” said Price Tula, a Kenyan student in the city.
Mandela also has a road named after him in Mysore, which also has a sizable population of students from African nations. “When I first came to Mysore, I was surprised to learn that there was a road named after Mandela. It just showed that everyone around the world loved him and respected him,” said Sira Mohele, a Tanzanian student from Mysore.