Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 14, 2013

LETTERS FOR DEC. 14, 2013: Friendship has links to Mandela

Goshen News

---- — In December 2010 my wife and I visited our friends, Zama and Pat Gebeda, in Umtata, South Africa, just 15 miles from Qunu, the Transkei boyhood home of Nelson Mandela. We had been Zama’s host family in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1982–83 when he did graduate work at the University of Northern Iowa. Zama was on a one-year leave as professor from the University of Fort Hare (where Mandela had attended in the early 1950s). In 1983 Zama told us he was quite sure the apartheid system would outlive him.

At Christmas 1993 the Gebedas visited us in Goshen. We had our picture taken downtown, the courthouse in the background. Zama and Pat were overjoyed, of course, that Mandela had been instrumental in bringing an end to apartheid. When we visited them in 2010, I jotted down the details of their flight home in January 1994:

Nelson Mandela was on the same plane, and he chose to personally greet all 350 passengers. “‘We are the Gebedas from Umtata,’” Zama said to Mandela when he reached their seats. “And then the medium changed,” recalled Zama. “We began to speak in Xhosa,” the native tongue of both Mandela and the Gebedas. “He inquired about what we do.” Four months later Mandela would be elected president of South Africa.

After Vera and I arrived in Umtata, Zama and I drafted and faxed a full-page request to visit Mandela, then 92, but a phone call to Zama the next day (while my wife and I were in Umtata’s Mandela museum) indicated that “the old man is very frail” and couldn’t have visitors. Indeed, soon after we returned to the States, we learned he was hospitalized with a respiratory infection.

As was said at the death of Lincoln, now Mandela belongs to the ages.

— Dan Shenk


Goshen students need buses during bad weather

This week I went with my daughter to pick-up my granddaughter at Pringle Park from Model School. During the winter months these kids can’t walk (to and from school) and teachers and others who help can’t stay out in the bad weather.

We need buses in the winter.

If we can spend money on a pool, we can buy gas for the buses.

— George A. Pavel