Remembering Mandela On His 100th Birthday.
"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." Nelson Mandela
On July 18, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, a man who truly was larger than life.
Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 to the chief of the Madiba clan. His father died when he was very young. He was raised by a leader of the clan named Jongintaba, who prepared him to become chief. However, Mandela gave up his claim to chieftainship, choosing to become a lawyer instead.
As a lawyer, he joined and later led the African National Congress. He helped reform the organization and used it to oppose apartheid (or segregation) policies that were passed by South Africa's National Party. As the founder of South Africa's very first black law practice, he was already experienced in cases related to apartheid.
A Voice For Justice
Mandela's first demonstration against the government was in 1952. During apartheid, certain areas of South Africa were considered "restricted". Nonwhites in the restricted areas were required to carry documents that were approved
Mandela traveled throughout the country, trying to drum up support for a nonviolent protest against these "pass laws". From that year onwards, the ruling party cracked down on his rights to travel and free speech as a form of punishment. In 1956 he was even arrested on charges of treason that aimed to intimidate activists. However, he was acquitted in 1961.
Two major events in 1960 changed not only Nelson Mandela, but South Africa as a whole. The first of these events was a massacre in Sharpesville, where unarmed blacks were gunned down by police. The second event was the banning of the African National Congress. As a result, Mandela went underground and founded the military wing of the African National Congress. He then traveled to Algeria, where he trained in guerrilla warfare and sabotage. When he returned, he was arrested at a roadblock and sentenced to five years in prison.
Leader Of A Free Nation
In October of 1963, Mandela stood trial where he used his speech to defiantly oppose the tyranny of the ruling party and call for liberty. It was an instant classic. Mandela and his speech made their way into the hearts and minds of people across the globe. Unfortunately, Mandela's captors remained deaf to his message. They sentenced him to lifelong imprisonment.
For 18 years, Mandela remained in prison. Even though he was offered freedom by the "white" government under conditions, he rejected them both times. Despite being behind bars, Mandela enjoyed great popularity and widespread support among South Africa's black population. His imprisonment even served as an international cause in the fight against apartheid.
As the years went by, South Africa's political climate changed and even worsened. In 1989, newly inaugurated President de Klerk began negotiations for Mandela's freedom. Once Mandela was released in 1990, he became the deputy president and later the party chief of the African National Congress. He restarted negotiations with de Klerk, this time to end apartheid and introduce South Africa to a true democracy. Both Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Under the new political system of South Africa, Mandela led the African National Congress to victory in 1994 and was sworn in as president. Even as president, however, Mandela remembered his roots. He established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring justice to the victims of apartheid. He also introduced a number of initiatives to raise the living standards of the black population of South Africa. He even oversaw the establishment of a new, democratic constitution.
In 1997, Mandela resigned from the ANC. However, he continued to promote peace, social justice, and community service through his foundation. These are causes that people continue to support in his memory, especially on Mandela Day.
Sources: Biography, NYTimes, Nelsonmandela.org, Nobelprize.org, Wikipedia
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|Title Annotation:||Society/Arts; Nelson Mandela|
|Article Type:||In memoriam|
|Date:||Jul 26, 2018|
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