Lowcountry woman remembers Nelson Mandela - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Lowcountry woman remembers Nelson Mandela

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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Lowcountry woman with ties to South Africa spent Thursday night remembering the man that changed her country.

Dr. Elsa Dixon, a music teacher at Ashley Hall in downtown Charleston, said Nelson Mandela changed life for her family and the world.

Her scrapbook filled with photos from her homeland tells the story of an evolving country.

Despite being born and raised in South Africa, Dixon said she did not know much about Mandela in her younger years.

"When I was growing up, we were not really aware of him until the Ravonia Trial where he was accused of terrorism," she said.

Dixon said those accusations led to years of imprisonment. When he was finally released, race barriers had been broken, changing her homeland forever.

"Even I, who grew up in very structured apartheid environment - I had tears in my eye because it was very special," she said.

Dixon visited Mandela in June and remembers when he was gravely ill.

"The majority thought that the country was stable enough and in place. And Mandela had graciously withdrawn from the spotlight for a few years already," she said.

Now that he has passed, Dixon said Mandela's place in world history is secure.

"I think I'll remember him as being the conciliator," she said. "And the negotiator of peace and bringing better understanding amongst all people."

Dixon is in touch with her family and friends in South Africa on Facebook.

She said everyone in the country was grieving Thursday night.

South Carolina politicians remember Mandela

Senator Time Scott: "Nelson Mandela was a transformational figure, a man who truly changed the world. He walked a long road to freedom and embraced the fundamental human belief in equality. After his release from prison, his tireless work to reconcile a nation torn apart by centuries of tension and hostility made him one of history's greatest statesmen. All freedom-loving people mourn his passing."

Governor Nikki Haley: "There are no words to describe the impact Nelson Mandela had not just on his country but on the world. May we all continue to learn from his courage, his grace, and his incomparable strength."

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