For one hour, 100 Burnaby students in Byrne Creek Secondary’s Centre for Dialogue were transported back in time via videoconference, living life through the eyes of Mr. Chris Lubbe (pronounced Lub-bee). Mr. Lubbe grew up in South Africa during apartheid, experiencing the humiliating and unjust effects of legislated, systemic racism. He later worked as the bodyguard of the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
When his family farmland was expropriated without remuneration and no possible recourse, Mr. Lubbe moved with his family to a city shantytown and a life of poverty. It was here that his politicization began. Segregation, beatings and unjust treatment served to shape him into an activist from a young age; he joined the then illegal political party called the African National Congress (ANC) and began to organize peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience.
Nelson Mandela, upon release from 27 years of prison, contacted Mr. Lubbe regarding an ANC event and requested a meeting with him. Skeptical at first, he attended the meeting and as history would have it, Mr. Lubbe soon began working for Mandela as a bodyguard– training with firearms for the first time and capitalizing on his full height of 6 feet 5 inches.
Mr. Lubbe now lives in the United Kingdom with his family. Though he has lived a life of conflict and observed both its violence and hope, his response has been to take the message of Nelson Mandela to the world: reconciliation and forgiveness. He urged Burnaby students to never take their education for granted and to pursue it with the knowledge that millions of other young people are not able to go to school. He explained that though it is difficult to forgive those who have perpetrated crimes and hate, it is more poisonous to hold on to feelings of revenge and anger than to move forward. Together we must create a more generous world for everyone. With his personable manner, and graphic stories, Mr. Lubbe was able to convince the audience of this important message for the future.
Mr. Chris Lubbe is currently a UNICEF Children’s Champion and available at Twitter @Sawubona_Chris or through his website: http://www.chrislubbe.co.uk/.