Nelson Mandela’s chaplain teaches children about equality

Colin Chambers surrounded by (l to r front) Kai O'Connor, 12, William Smith, 12, Mary Jane, 13. Back (l to r) Coral Harland, 13 and Ruby St John, 13.
Colin Chambers surrounded by (l to r front) Kai O'Connor, 12, William Smith, 12, Mary Jane, 13. Back (l to r) Coral Harland, 13 and Ruby St John, 13.
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SCHOOL children have received a special visit from Nelson Mandela’s former prison chaplain as part of a project on equality and prejudice.

Pupils from Crookhorn College enjoyed a presentation from minister Colin Chambers, who became close to Nelson Mandela during his time imprisoned on Robben Island in South Africa.

Event organiser and head of history - Victoria Mason

Event organiser and head of history - Victoria Mason

Mr Chambers said: ‘I met Nelson Mandela when I was prison chaplain. At first I didn’t think he would accept me but he welcomed me and we built up a good relationship. I am here to pass on his message of forgiveness and reconciliation.’

The visit was particularly poignant for Year 9 student, Mary Jane, 13, who was born in South Africa and spent her early childhood there.

‘I have always looked up to Nelson Mandela. I was too young to remember him but my parents told me all about his life. One of his key messages is that everyone is equal and no one is better than anyone else. One day I would like to visit Robben Island,’ explained Mary.

William Smith, aged 12, added: ‘I am excited about meeting someone who knew Nelson Mandela and learning about how he became president and fought for equal rights.’

Colin Chambers surrounded by (l to r front) Kai O'Connor, 12, William Smith, 12, Mary Jane, 13. Back (l to r) Coral Harland, 13 and Ruby Stjohn, 13.

Colin Chambers surrounded by (l to r front) Kai O'Connor, 12, William Smith, 12, Mary Jane, 13. Back (l to r) Coral Harland, 13 and Ruby Stjohn, 13.

Pupils were selected to participate in the event after submitting postcards which outlined their views on equality and why it is important. As well as hearing from Mr Chambers they also had the opportunity to question him about his experience of apartheid and relationship with Mandela.

Event organiser and head of history, Victoria Mason, said: ‘The presentation is part of our distinguished visitor programme in which the children get the opportunity to hear from speakers they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. The idea of today’s talk is to get students thinking about ideas of equality and the principle of standing up for what you believe in.’

Ms Mason believes that the principles of equality and rejection of prejudice are cross curricula themes present throughout the curriculum and within the school’s own ethos.

Year 9 student, Ruby Stjohn, 13, said: ‘In history we have been learning about Nelson Mandela’s life and we have also covered some of his key philosophies in religious education.’

‘I have been studying about slavery and the underlying principle that everyone is equal,’ said Kai O’Connor, 13.

Mr Chambers added: ‘One of Nelson’s key messages was ‘it always seems impossible until it is done’. Hopefully the children can take this message and apply it to their own lives.’