Remembering a great leader of our time Nelson Mandela


“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
 “A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”
 ― Quotes in Long Walk to Freedom: Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a great political leader of our time; like great leaders Lincoln of USA or Gandhi of India before our time, who go beyond mere consensus and move out ahead of their followers to break new ground. Great Mandela did it against the policy of segregation in his country South Africa. “Apartheid” (South African English) word meaning “separateness”, or “the state of being apart”, literally was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP), governing from 1948 to 1994. Under apartheid, the rights, associations, and movements of the majority black inhabitants and other ethnic groups were curtailed. Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. Nelson Mandela is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.

Brief Timeline of Great Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918 named Rolihlahla, in the small village of Mveso on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. While reading for BA at Fort Hare University, becomes involved in a boycott against the Universities policies and had to leave. He escapes an arranged marriage and runs to Johannesburg in 1939. While there he completes his BA through correspondence and studies Law at the University of Witwatersrand. In 1943 Nelson Mandela becomes a member of the African National Congress (ANC), the following year along with Oliver Tambo, forms the Youth League of the ANC, the same year marries Evelyn Mase.

In 1948 the apartheid policy of segregation is implemented across South Africa. In 1952 Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo open the first black legal firm in South Africa; providing free or cheap legal aid to blacks, Mandela was actively involved in the ANC’s defiance campaign and in 1955 Freedom Charter calling for equal rights is adopted at the Congress of the people. On Dec 5, 1956 Mandela and 155 other political activists were charged with treason; the Riviona Trial followed until 1956 when all were acquitted. Mandela’s first marriage ends in 1957 the following in 1958 Nelson Mandela marries ‘Winnie’. In 1959 New laws passed separating homelands for black groups and increasing racial segregation. In the same year Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) was formed and the ANC loses many members and financial support to the group. In 1960 at the Sharpeville Massacre 69 black South Africans were shot by police at a peaceful protest and over 150 wounded. The ANC banned and Mandela goes underground forming ‘The Spear of the Nation’ (MK) military group with arms; in 1961 Mandela issues a call to arms and becomes leader of the Umkhontoat ANC guerrilla movement. On Aug 5, 1962 Mandela arrested and imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. In Oct 25 same year was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but goes on the run and in was 1964 recaptured, tried for treason and sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1980 Oliver Tambo (who has been exiled) launches an international campaign to have Mandela released. In 1983 Farmers allowed to arm themselves with Government making claims of multiple murders, rapes and robberies by black dissidents. In 1986 Sanctions against South Africa increased costing millions and in 1988 Amnesty for dissidents announced and 122 surrender He was then 46 years old and goes to Robben Island prison where he spends the next 18 years of his imprisonment, before being moved was eventually released on Feb 11 1990– Nelson Mandela was freed from prison after 27 years. The same year the ban on the ANC was lifted by President de Klerk, and talks on forming a multi-racial democracy began.

In 1991 Nelson Mandela becomes president of the ANC, by then Olympic Games ban lifted. In 1993 Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and Nelson divorced Winnie. On April 26, 1994 – first elections where blacks can vote; the ANC wins the election with 252 seats out of 400 and Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as the first black President of South Africa in May with De Klerk is appointed as Deputy President and the racially mixed Government of National Unity formed. In 1995 Mandela wears a Springbok shirt at the South African hosted Rugby World Cup seen as a gesture of healing and trust between black and white. July 18, 1998  Nelson Mandela marries Graca Machel (widow of former Mozambique President) on his 80th birthday.

In 1999 Mandela relinquishes the Presidency of South Africa to Thabo Mbeki. 2000 Mandela is appointed mediator civil war in Burundi. In 2003 Mandela supports 46664 AIDS fund raising campaign. (named after his prison number). At 85 Mandela announces retirement in 2004 from official life was granted the honor of the freedom of the city of Johannesburg. In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly declares July 18 ‘Mandela Day’ as a tribute to his contribution to world freedom. Nelson Mandela died on Dec. 5, 2013 at the age of 95 in Johannesburg.