A retrospective: Nelson Mandela

‘Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela‘ was a South African politician, philosopher, revolutionary and anti-apartheid demonstrator, and he was a socialist who served as the first black South African President from 1994 to 1999 after his release from prison. Nelson had a long and complicated life which I will discuss further.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.” Nelson Mandela

Nelson was born to a village chief, and was born and raised in Mvezo, South Africa, and belonged to the Thembu dynasty, and was baptised at the local Methodist church. His father died at the age of 12 and he was adopted by the regent of the Thembu people, chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, and lived the remainder of his childhood at the royal residence in Mqhekezweni.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

When he reached adulthood he studied law, and upon getting his degree he practised being a lawyer in Johannesburg. This is when he became involved with politics and decided to join the opposition to the racially motivated, white supremacist government, and he secretly joined the South African Communist Party, where he began to promote social rights for black citizens of South Africa, and he joined the African National Congress in 1942.

“I detest racialism because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.” Nelson Mandela

Initially he peacefully protested against the discrimination and racist tactics of the South African white government, and he created a law firm with his friend Oliver Tambo to represent underprivileged blacks who were caught up in protests. For almost 20 years Nelson and his comrades held rallies and protested peacefully but it was futile, and it was decided that guerilla style tactics was more effective against the worsening apartheid, and he co founded the Umkhonto we Sizwe. In 1963 this came to an end when he was charged with political offences and sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Religion is one of the most important forces in the world. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, or a Hindu, religion is a great force, and it can help one have command of one’s own morality, one’s own behavior, and one’s own attitude.” – Nelson Mandela

During his time in prison he reached legendary status and became an icon for black resistance against South Africa’s apartheid regime. He spent 27 years in prison, and after much international public and political protests, the new President of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk announced his release date. Even after his release his ways didn’t change. He was considerably older, and much more educated as he’d studied a bachelors in law during his time in prison, but he still insisted on protest and fought for the rights for blacks to vote.

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

In 1993 both Nelson and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize for ridding South Africa of apartheid, and they negotiated the country’s first multiracial elections. In 1994, during a democratic election, Nelson was inaugurated as the country’s first black president, with de Klerk as Vice President. This was the end of years of struggles and inequality for black citizens of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela had successfully turned a page in African history. In 1999, at the age of 82 he retired from politics , but didn’t leave the public arena until he was 92, and in 2013, age 95 he passed away at his home in Johannesburg.

July 18th, Nelson’s birthday, became internationally, Mandela day which was created to promote world peace and unity. Not only did he bring peace, but he brought equality, especially by bringing women into the political arena which had never been seen before since South Africa began. As well as equality and rights, he brought education to rural Africa, and led a fight against the life taking disease AIDS.

“The Mandela Day Global Network is a community of organisations, government, corporates and individuals that partner with the Foundation to drive Mandela Day and pursue its objectives. It is a base for the strategic partnerships of organisations with common goals aimed at globally coordinating efforts, sharing information and linking the needs to resources.” – MandelaDay

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