Suncoast residents remembers Mandela

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SARASORA, FL --  The tributes to Nelson Mandela, keep pouring in.   People across the globe are paying their respects to the iconic South African who died Thursday at the age of 95.  And, people here on the Suncoast are among the group.

"The rules that the government came up with to separate the races were unbelievable," said Dr . Russell Samson.  Samson is among the few Suncoast residents who experienced apartheid in South Africa first hand.

"People think it was just black and white but we were separated English speaking versus the other language in South Africa which among the white people is considered Africana's.  They separated the old from the young, we were segregated where Japanese people were considered white and Chinese considered blacks," added Samson

Samson says with those classifications came different privileges.  "We would sit in the autopsy room and they would bring the white dead person in and the black medical students had to stay outside the room."

Samson didn't agree with government's policies and he joined the anti apartheid movement lead by Nelson Mandela.

"It was an amazingly segregated country.  For a man to come out of that and change an entire country and change an entire thought process is amazing.  I don't think there are many people on this planet who could have did what he did," said Samson. 

Similar sentiments are echoed by many in the African American community.

"He was fighting for what we all believed in," said Ms. Lovette Harper.  She's a historian, who collects artifacts in hopes of informing the younger generation about cultures and people like Mandela; who, she says she remembers meeting vividly.

"It was so wonderful to see this human being who had giving so much of himself, who really sacrificed his family, and everything.  All on the behave of all people.  I really want our young people to feel proud and this is a man that we can feel very very proud," added Lovette.

Memorial service for the anti-apartheid leader will be held in the Johannesburg Stadium Tuesday, Dec. 10.  His body will lie in state at government buildings until the burial.