Author: Sherry Helms
Today the world mourned the loss of a great iconic and inspiring figure of our time-Nelson Mandela. An international hero, whose struggle against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Noble Prize, died at the age of 95 in Johannesburg, after a prolonged lung infection. Jacob Zuma, South African President, announced his death on late Thursday.
First democratically elected president of South Africa, Mandela survived decades in prison for his fight against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies. In his lifelong dedication to the freedom of his people, Mandela became an enduring icon of humanism, integrity, dignity and resilience.
Born the son of a tribal chief on July 18, 1918 in the Umtata province of Transkei, Nelson Mandela was expelled from University of Fort Hare for his participation in a student strike. In 1941, he left Transkei and ran away to Johannesburg to avoid his marriage, which was arranged by the Themby chief.
In Johannesburg, he earned a law degree from the University of Witwatersrand and joined the African National Congress (A.N.C). In order to infuse new enthusiasm into the A.N.C body, he formed the A.N.C youth league that would take radical steps against the white minority’s supremacy. On 5 December 1956, Mandela was charged along with the 156 leading members of ANC with high treason ended with their acquittal 5 years later. Due to Mandela’s perseverance in fighting the apartheid system, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island in 1964.
Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 prison years in Robben Island and rest in Pollsmoor Prison. During that time, his name as the powerful figure of the resistance of anti-Apartheid system grew progressively. On Feb 11, 1990, all TV channels around the world broadcast live Mandela’s walked out of prison to freedom. He was awarded more than 695 awards, including the Noble Peace Prize in 1993 and the U.S. Congressional medal in 1998.
During the course of his 27 years in prison, Nelson began writing his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom that reveals his involvement in the African National Congress and his lasting devotion to public works. He wrote many books, mostly autobiographical that gives a lot of insight into the man, his political and personal beliefs. A few books by him that disclose the horrors of apartheid and the liberation movement are “No Easy Walk to Freedom,” “Conversations with Myself,” and “In His Own Words.”
From a young boy, to a political protester, to President, to peacemaker, Mandela never wavered in his convictions. He is an epitome of forgiveness and his leadership style is an inspiration to mankind.
We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the Mandela Family and friends at this difficult time.