Sometime in the 1980s, my dad, Walter Tarnopolsky, accepted an honourary doctorate on behalf of Nelson Mandela, who was in prison at the time. My father was being presented with the same distinction in recognition of his lifetime scholarly commitment to human rights. In the judgment of the university conferring the award, the similarity of their goals made my dad an appropriate stand-in for this titan of social justice. After Mandela got out of prison my father had the incredible opportunity to meet his hero, and that encounter is pictured above.
My father died a year after this was shot, exactly twenty years ago. He had traveled to South Africa to consult with the government in their fight for democracy, and died two days after returning home. We know his heart gave out, but the exact cause of his death remains a mystery. In different ways, both of these human rights warriors made great personal sacrifices for this noblest of causes and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela.