Tributes have been pouring in from the University of Lincoln after the death of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela. Photo via WikipediaThe former South African president, aged 95, died on Thursday December 5 at his home in Johannesburg.

He spent 27 years in prison before becoming the country’s first black president in 1994. He helped unite South Africa after his party replaced the racist white minority regime and abolished the policy known as apartheid.

Heather Hughes is the Professor of Southern African studies at the University of Lincoln. She grew up in Johannesburg and was active in the anti-apartheid movement. She said:

“Nelson Mandela was the dominant figure in seeing South Africa through a very traumatic time.”

“A lot of people don’t realise that after his release [from prison] things got a lot worse in South Africa before they got better. There was a terrible increase in violence because not all the black organisations were on his side. The violence could have threatened to become far worse and it was a figure like him standing for reconciliation who saved South Africa from a lot  more trauma.

“He stood for a non-racial, social and political order. No other figure was able to convince people that that was the way forward like he could.”

The University of Lincoln’s Student Union (SU) also commemorated the life of Nelson Mandela by forming a peace symbol outside the Main Admin Building with students. Brian Alcorn, the Vice President of welfare and community at the SU, said:

“I was saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela. He was a truly inspiring man and a great leader. Long may we remember him.”

“Mandela’s life represented the the global struggle for equality and human dignity and although this struggle is unending, Mandela’s life reminded me that it’s a struggle worth having. Thank you, Madiba.”