South Africans call themselves the Rainbow Nation, descriptive of the diversity found among its people. Eleven national languages are instrumental in communicating the hopes and desires of this nation. South Africa also has the distinguished honor of being one of the relatively few nations in history that changed hands of power in a peaceful manner. This momentous achievement is the product of people from many different cultural backgrounds working together for peace and harmony The first President of the New South Africa, as it is often referred to, Nelson Mandela, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace, together with the last President of the old regime, F.J. de Klerk. Mandela's memoir, Long Walk to Freedom (1994), has become a classic and personal documentation of this transitional process, highlighting human dignity and human rights. This cooperation between people from very different backgrounds, in the name of harmony, speaks volumes.
South Africa has also known darker days when it was torn apart by intolerance and injustice, and Apartheid is the one word in the South African vocabulary that is loaded with pain and regret. Much like a hateful and violent divorce rips apart a family, this regime ripped apart a nation. With his Truth and Reconciliation hearings, Bishop Desmond Tutu (another Nobel Peace Prize winner) has been weaving together the strands of a torn nation into a new united Rainbow Nation, who symbolically have adopted a new flag integrating both the past heritage and the future hopes of all concerned.
In many ways, this reunification of the people of South Africa has been both a macro- and micro-systemic effort, a giant process helped along by countless individuals, which has touched the lives of all involved. As