Simon Estes reflects on the death of Nelson Mandela

Devin Wilmott

With a personal connection to Nelson Mandela, internationally renowned opera singer and professor at Iowa State Simon Estes shares his grief with the world accompanied by many memories of his presence.  

“I was actually driving back to Des Moines from Ames yesterday, and I heard this and was deeply saddened. I just remembered all the honors of having met and sung for him along with my students at Simon Estes Music High School in Cape Town South Africa,” Estes said. “I remembered the many times they would sing for him, and he would dance with my students. Then I thought of the scarce cell in which he was imprisoned. It’s hard for one to grasp a man of his magnitude. Nelson Mandela was a very humble man, but when he spoke his message, he spoke it with power, and I hope I can continue the rest of my life to serve people as he did.” 

Estes is now an adjunct professor of music at Iowa State and has identified a connection with Mandela’s death and the heart of young students.

“Nelson Mandela affected young people. You see, hearts in young people have not become so hardened over decades like people who are older. I think, through out the entire world young people identified with Nelson Mandela and his efforts are vitally important,” Estes said. “You, young people are our future. I hope that people like Nelson Mandela will have a lasting and productive influence on your lives and that you wont just read about what he has done, but you will also act upon what he has done for his country and ultimately the world.”

Estes has faced many obstacles in his life due to being black. Mandela has been an inspiration to Estes in many ways and hopes that his legacy will continue to touch people lives as he did for him. 

“He has demonstrated not only to me but to the world that a man can be unjustly incarcerated, have his life threatened, put on the international terrorist list, and through all of this, here this man gets out of prison with no hatred or bitterness in his heart. Seeking no revenge, he has further supported the way my mother and father taught me along with Martin Luther King — that nonviolence is the best method. He has let me know that with faith and determination, we can overcome any obstacle, and that we must never be bitter,” Estes said.