Nelson Mandela and his life

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean. If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Nel...

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean. If a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 19, 1918 in a village named Mvezo in South Africa. His father, Gadla Henry was a chief and his mother, Nosekeni Fanny was third wife out of four of Gadla Henry. He was 9 years old when his father died and he was adopted by Jongintaba Dalindyebo, a high ranked thembu agent who groomed Mandela for leadership role.

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He was first in his family to receive formal education. He felt and witnessed much discrimination on the basis of race since childhood and those practices were heartbreaking to him. He studied law at the University of Witwatersrand and participated in a movement against racial discrimination. Then, in 1944, Mandela joined African National Congress (ANC). Later, he established ANCYL with Oliver Tambo and the same year got married to Evelyn Ntoko, his first wife. They divorced in 1957 and had 4 children.

In the elections of 1948, Afrikaner dominated National Party introduced a racial system of classification and segregation “Apartheid”.

Apartheid restricted non-white people from owning basic rights and barred them from government and gave minority status to white people. The same year ANC adopted the plan to achieve full citizenship through non-violent methods by boycotts, strikes and civil disobedience.

It was December 5, 1956 that Nelson Mandela and 155 other people were acquitted in Marathon Treason Trial. In between, in 1959, tension within ANC rose and they spilt into Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). On the consecutive year, police open fired on peaceful black protesters. This massacre killed 69 people.

ANC and PNC were banned by the government. At that point of time, Mandela decided to turn towards radical approach than following passive resistance.

In 1961, a new armed wing of ANC known as MK was co-founded by Mandela. When their peaceful protest was answered with violence and when all hopes of non-violence struggle vanished, they took violent forms of political struggle. The same year he was sentenced for 5 years. In the month of June in 1964, he was again sentenced and this time for lifetime!

He remained eighteen years in prison at Robben Island Prison under high security in a small cell without even bed. He was forced to do hard labor in lime quarry. Afterwards, he was shifted to Poolsmoor prison in Capetown till 1982 and then in 1988, he was transferred to Victor Verster prison from where he was released.

He and other prisoners had gone through very inhuman activities like guards burying inmates up to head and urinating on them. This practice continued until Mandela earned Bachelor of law degree from the University of London and acted as a mentor for other prisoners. Ultimately, he taught them non-violent means to seek better treatment. Even he was away from the freedom struggles but he remained a famous leader among his followers. He smuggled out some political statements and his autobiography “A long Walk to Freedom” which was published 5 years later of his release.

There is a one more fact about Nelson Mandela’s personality that makes me wonder he was surely an exceptional leader! During his years at jail, higher authorities had to change guards from time to time. It’s because Nelson Mandela used to communicate with them in their own tongue and by his intelligence, he used to influence them.

He had charm and intelligence that even the people who had to imprison him felt oneness and love towards him. It was difficult for them not to influence from him.

In 1980, Oliver Tambo started a campaign “Free Nelson Mandela” that put Nelson Mandela on house arrest due to political pressure. Due to this pressure, government offered Nelson Mandela freedom from bars with some political compromises to which Mandela didn’t agreed.

In 1988, new president was elected who had different principles than his party fellows and that president was F.W. de Klerk. On February, 1991, he ordered to release Nelson Mandela and lifted the ban on ANC.

Nelson Mandela and de Klerk shared Noble Peace Prize in December 1993. On April 26, 1994 more than 22 million South African cast their vote in Country's first multiracial parliamentary elections and chose ANC.

On May 10, 1994 Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa and de Klerk served as his first deputy!

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