SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of people are singing and dancing around a South African hospital right now, celebrating the birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela. A South African man who lives in Utah is celebrating here at home.
The African civil rights icon has had a tremendous impact on many folks, including Taylorsville resident Mo Mgombti.
"When you have a school child in the arms of an older school child as well, running down the street, bloody, and taking him to safety where he could be able to be brought back to life if possible. Those are hard images to look at."
While Nelson Mandela lays in a hospital bed in Pretoria, South Africa, he may seem weak. But for Mqombti, Mandela is strength.
Mqombti grew up during apartheid. Here are some of the things he remembers during anti-apartheid protests in the early 90s.
"When you have a school child in the arms of an older school child as well, running down the street, bloody, and taking him to safety where he could be able to be brought back to life if possible," Mgombti said. "Those are hard images to look at."
He says he still remembers the advice Mandela gave to the people of South Africa.
"He came out and said you know what the country belongs to each and every South African that lives in it, so ours is to pick up where we are right now, not to forget the past, because you know you can't really forget those things, but to have a sense of forgiveness in our hearts," Mgombti said.
His experiences are profound and even painful at times to think about. But Mgombti says he made peace with the experiences of his childhood because of Mandela's leadership.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed rumors that Mandela's health is improving and could be released from the hospital in coming days.