Farewell, Nelson Mandela

Farewell, Nelson Mandela

Our children will be born into a world where apartheid is nothing more than a history lesson.  However, we remember when the struggle of South Africans for equality was very real.  The figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement was Nelson Mandela.  My generation empathised greatly as we could hardly imagine that such an antiquated way of thinking had survived for so long.  When Mandela was finally released from prison after decades of imprisonment, we knew that change was coming.  Now he has gone on to his eternal rest, we recognise the life and legacy of a man who embraced his good conscience.

Unfortunately, injustice still prevails in our world today.  There are people who have taken up the mantle of the great freedom fighters.  However we get so distracted by the trivialities of celebrities, fads and general bacchanal that their work often goes unnoticed…ignored.  Work that emulates people like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. and many more.  As Mandela said, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”  Let’s all try to find something to be passionate about that helps make this world a better place.

Nelson Mandela (1990)

Nelson Mandela (1990)

Nelson Mandela’s Biography from http://www.nobelprize.org/

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961 and was acquitted in 1961.

After the banning of the ANC in 1960, Nelson Mandela argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with hard labour. In 1963, when many fellow leaders of the ANC and the Umkhonto we Sizwe were arrested, Mandela was brought to stand trial with them for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. His statement from the dock received considerable international publicity. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on the mainland.

During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after the organization had been banned in 1960, Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation’s National Chairperson.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1993, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1994

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.