As the world pays tribute to former South Afican President Nelson Mandela, two Pittsburghers share their personal remembrances with us. Brenda Berrian from the University of Pittsburgh Africana studies department met Mandela on December 6, 1991 when he visited Pittsburgh. She called him "South Africa’s greatest son."
“He was always a family oriented man. A plain man, wanting to be with his children, his grandchildren, all of his friends. He said, ‘I did what I did on behalf of myself and the future of my family and other generations.’ But he basically just wanted to be in his house surrounded by his loved ones. So he would not want to be on a pedestal.”
Pittsburgh area resident, Arthur Baldwin, was a senior level official for the National Energy and Technology Laboratory and the chair of the continent of Africa for fossil energy for the US Department of Energy. He worked with Mandela in South Africa on reconstruction and development of the nation's energy plan.
“Everyone talks about him as being a good human being and he certainly was. A good statesman as well the interface that he had with the international community. But he had such insight, not just on the energy front but it was across all sectors. Because what he was looking at were the disparities in South Africa. One of the key things was that there were so many people living in poverty, so many people living without housing. The real issue for him was how was he going to develop that country so that all parties participated.”
Former South African President Nelson Mandela died Thursday December 5, 2013 from complications of a recurring lung infection. He was 95 years old.