Hip hop, hope and Mandela

December 8, 2013 in Featured Question of the Week, Nelson Mandela, Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers by André Johnson

Hip hop first introduced me to Nelson Mandela and his struggle for human rights. Groups like Stesasonic with their Free South Africa introduced me and a lot of hip hop inspired activists to learn more about this struggle and get involved in the struggle. I would later began follow the disinvestment campaigns that were going on around the country and started to speak up and speak out against the system of apartheid.

What made Mandela special however was his belief and practice of non-violence, forgiveness and his radical approach to reconciliation. That for me, merged with my hip hop sensibilities and my understanding of the Gospel, has given shape to my overall ministry. It is something that I aim not only to preach and teach, but also to practice daily in my life. I see Mandela as the epitome of grace and mercy.

Mandela’s life also gives me reason to hope—because if Mandela could languish in a prison in inhumane conditions for 27 years—if Mandela could upon release go and teach and preach love and forgiveness—if Mandela, could then serve as president of the country that hurt him and his loved ones so much—if Mandela could work with former enemies and treat them as friends—if Mandela could do that, then there is a God and there is always a reason for hope.