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The Myburgh family of South Africa spent part of the evening Thursday at their home in Mount Pleasant, discussing their former President, Nelson Mandela.

Gerbri Myburgh said, "I was very young, but it happened very close to our family where we lived."

She is talked about Mandela's prison, where he was held for 27 years. The prison was about 30 minutes from her home. "We grew up with him. He is an icon. The changes he made, people really looked up to him… he definitely united the blacks and the whites. Definitely. He was just a great example for people to look up to."

Mike Myburgh is Gerbri's father-in-law. He is visiting his family in Mount Pleasant, but he lives in Victoria, South Africa. He says when Mandela was released from prison and elected president, the people of South Africa were not sure what would happen. "Everybody was expecting a second blood bath in South Africa. I was one of the people that bought boxes of candles and tin food, because we were expecting a real war."

But instead, Mandela chose peace, and to forgive and unite. Mike said, "He started out as a terrorist, and he spent 27 years in jail…" As a matter of fact, Mandela was on the US terrorism watch list until 2008, when President George W. Bush signed a bill removing him from that list.

Mike went on to say, "and he came out and forgave the people that sent him to jail, and helped to organize and unify South Africa… everybody knows what he's done. They all respect him for it. They all think he did a marvelous job. It is only by the grace of God, I think, that helped him to do that, otherwise it wouldn't have happened."

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.