Island doctor grateful to Mandela

Eric McCarthy
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TYNE VALLEY -- Dr. Joyce Madigane is grateful to Nelson Mandela.

Dr. Joyce Madigane has been serving the Tyne Valley/Lennox Island area for 39 years. On June 7, she was rewarded for her service by being named to the Order of P.E.I. 

The Island doctor, who participated in the youth wing of the African National Congress while attending university in South Africa in the late 1950s and early 1960s, still fondly recalls the sacrifices Mandela made in the struggle to end apartheid.

Apartheid, explained Dr. Joyce Madigane, a longtime physician in Tyne Valley, was separateness or separate development. The South African government, made up of members of the country’s minority white population, placed severe restrictions on black and coloured people.

Madigane, a student from Zimbabwe, spent a night in a Johannesburg jail simply because she was black and in the city after 6 p.m. 

“It happened once and, after that, I was never in town after 6 p.m.,” recalled Madigane who said she was considered a non-entity.

Madigane never met Mandela personally, but she was friend and classmate to a daughter of Albert Lutuli, the ANC president from 1952 to 1967. Mandela became ANC president in 1991 and head of South Africa’s government three years later.

She was often called a nanny, because she was black and a woman, and her husband was called a boy.

“Why would I be bitter about being called a nanny? I never went to prison for it,” Madigane says in reflecting on the 27 years Mandela spent in prison for his struggle to end apartheid. “All I did was I got called silly little names, but I continued with my life.”

Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95, was released from prison in 1990.

“We are one nation. That’s how you feel when you are there,” Madigane said in explaining how South Africa has changed because of people like Mandela.

“The day Mandela died, I was relieved and delighted that he died in peace; he finally got real peace, but he gave us the gift of humanity,” she commented.

Mandela led South Africa’s government until 1999. He received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993.

“When Mandela came (from prison) with that smile, that beautiful day, we were all so happy. We never looked back. In South Africa, you do not look back; you move forward,” Madigane said.

“When a politician comes and says, ‘forget about the past and live as a new country, a rainbow nation,’ it’s different. It resonates with everybody,” she reflects on the message of a man she regards as a father figure.

“You have no idea the hatred black people and white people had in Southern Africa and Mandela gave us the gift of love for one another,” she said.

“That’s the gift he gave us. He gave us a gift of humanity, democracy, sense of justice and sense of belonging as one nation. It is a true rainbow nation.”

Madigane who admits she lobbied for Mandela’s release and the end to apartheid, said she is proud of the role former Prime Ministers of Canada, Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney played in lobbying for the end of apartheid. She’s proud they were in attendance for Mandela’s memorial service.

“I have a great admiration for Mr. Mulroney. They took up the cause. They fought very hard. They convinced the British and they convinced the Americans, and we had a free Mandela.” 

Geographic location: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Johannesburg Southern Africa Canada

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