Scholar, African nationalist, mediator, democratic socialist, Philanthropist, peacemaker, innovator, husband, and father. What do these characteristics have in common? They are just a few words to thoroughly describe the honorable Rolihlahla “Nelson” Mandela, who passed away.
In his native Xhosa language, Rolihlahla means, “pulling the branch of a tree” the other meaning is “troublemaker”. The name Nelson was actually given to him by his teacher Ms. Mdingane on his first day of school. He was unclear about why she chose that name.
Often denounced as a terrorist, the Transkei South African born leader gained international acclaim for his activism, becoming the recipient of countless honors, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and President of South Africa, also, served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.
The first black South African to hold the office, he focused on abolishing apartheid while tackling inequality, racism, and poverty encouraging racial reconciliation. After recent years of battling health issues, including a recurring lung infection, “The Father of the Nation” departed this life on Thursday, December 5. He was 95.
In 1952, he was appointed superintendent of the ANC Defiance Campaign’s Transvaal Chapter. There, he presided over the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for subversive activities and was prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961.
Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he led a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government. On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served a total of 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was finally granted in 1990. Mandela opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, where he led the ANC to victory.
His Cherished Legacy –
Mandela will be remembered for many intriguing things, including beating many odds, breaking countless barriers, and being the face of freedom. However, it’s his message of forgiveness and reconciliation that will remain with us the most.
After his 1990 release from prison Mandela stated, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
In 2009, Mandela’s birthday, which is July 18, was declared “Mandela Day” to promote global peace and celebrate the South African leader’s legacy.
There will be many events over the next few days, with the main event being an official memorial service to be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013. Mandela’s body will be in Pretoria and a state funeral will be held on the 15th of December 2013 in Qunu.
Mandela once stated, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” Like many other lessons that he has taught, this still proves to be one of the truest to this day.
Mr. Mandela, renowned freedom fighter and iconic world symbol of peace, we salute you and will never forget you. Rest peacefully.