You may find it strange that a young woman from South Africa is writing an essay about "How Dr Martin Luther King Jr. influenced my life". This, however, is the power and magic of the life and words of this great man - his influence extended around the world and touched even me, 3000 miles away and twenty years later.
Early in the 20th century, Mohandas Gandhi started his political career in South Africa, resisting the discrimination against the Indian people in South Africa. Despite some successes, segregation in South Africa remained a very real reality until the 1990's. Gandhi went back to India and achieved perhaps one of the greatest feats in history, liberating India from the yoke of colonialism through nonviolent passive resistance. Gandhi's strategy yielded much less spectacular results in South Africa. It may have been deducted then that nonviolent passive resistance does not work everywhere and was successful mainly due to Gandhi's leadership or the culture of the Indian people.
But then came along another great visionary. Martin Luther King Jr. showed the world that nonviolent passive resistance works, not just in India, not just under Gandhi's leadership, but also in the Western world. What Martin Luther King Jr. achieved inspired millions of South Africans who knew very well what segregation and discrimination meant. I propose that his words and the example he set avoided a bloodbath in a racial civil war in South Africa as it did here in America. Our media was filled with reports of the civil rights struggle. Despite the South African government's attempts to turn King's work into an example of the anarchy that would explode should apartheid be abolished, people saw and understood that justice will prevail and that violence is not the answer.
I believe that South Africa's own...