“Nelson Mandela”

“Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement. “

This article consist of:

  • Introduction
  • Early life
  • Politics
  • Life as a prisoner
  • President
  • His writing
  • Awards

INTRODUCTION:

The leader is a man who comes closest to realizing the norms of a group that values the highest; this conformity gives him his high rank, which attracts people and implies the right to assume control of the group.

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

EARLY LIFE:

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela commonly known as Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 to a tribal chief of Tembu – Henry Mandela. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in MqhekeMqhekezweni.

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people. He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom of giving all school children “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated. Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student .Meanwhile, he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. 

POLITICS:

Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949. In 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months of hard labour, suspended for two years.A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practise law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.

LIFE AS A PRISONER:

During 1940s and 1950s he rose rapidly through the ANC hierarchy, was frequently subject to detention, police harassments, and banning.
ANC was outlawed in 1960, that’s when he went underground and a military wing was formed, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). In 1962 Mandela was sentenced for five years of imprisonment for travel without valid travel documents whilst leaving South Africa and inciting Africans to strike. Two years later during his detension in 1964, was charged with treason and sentenced him to life imprisonment for giving a four-and-a-half hours of speech criticizing apartheid which is memorable.

Living in a prison had the same meaning as living in the worst place in South Africa: Robben Island. ANC prisoners earned “D” classifications, prisoners who were the most dangerous and had the least rights. They were kept in cells with hay carpets and thin blankets as beds and iron buckets for toilets. The daily menu was a small portion of corn soup with extra vegetable or meat chop for dinner. The prisoners were given thin shirts from khaki and a pair shorts to wear, even during the winter, and were restricted from reading newspapers or magazines. The prisoners spent most of their time in a chalk mine, where they were made to work very hard.
Being the leader of the group, Nelson received more harsh treatment than the others. He was kept 23 hours in his cell every day, merely lit by a lamp. Because of which he was unable to sleep or know what the time was. He was only allowed to have one visitor once in six months and he was once not allowed to see his wife (Winnie) for two years. He was allowed to write and receive one letter every six months. The letters he received was screened by the guard, who would cut and remove the parts that were considered unsafe or effectively erasing.
Mandela spent 27 consecutive years of his life in detention.His imprisonment improved his political status which resulted in worldwide campaign to release him.
During these 27 years that Mandela spent in prison, he was hidden from the world while he quarried limestone and harvested sea-weed; his quiet suffering example was one of the pressures for the government. Mandela’s Public discussion was considered illegal, but as the years passed by, he assumed the mantle of a martyr.
Six years of Mandela life was spent in a solitary confinement, during this period he was allowed a weekly 30-minute visit by his wife. He was later in 1984 was offered a conditional freedom, with a condition that he should settle in a black “homeland” that is officially designated in Transkei, Mandela refused the offer affirming his allegiance to the African National Congress. Mandela was hospitalized in 1988 for tuberculosis. After he recovered he was returned to prison with lesser stringent circumstances. 1990, he was released unconditionally to a joyous scenes of celebration at home and abroad.

PRESIDENT:

On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.
True to his promise, Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.
Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.
He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

HIS WRITING:

Basic Books, 1965, “No Easy Walk to Freedom”.
Pathfinder Press, 1986, “The Struggle Is My Life”.
Long Walk to Freedom (Autobiography of Nelson Mandela).

AWARDS :

In 1980 Jawaharlal Nehru Award from the government of India for International Understanding; in 1981, Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights from the government of Austria. In 1983, he named as an honorary citizen of Rome; Simon Bolivar International Prize from UNESCO, in 1983. And in 1986 he was honored W. E. B. DuBois Medal; in 1987 he was awarded with “Nobel Peace Prize” and Liberty Medal. The following year (1988) he received the Sakharov Prize, followed by Gaddaff Human Rights Prize in 1989. After 2 year he was awarded with Houphouet Prize in 1991 followed by a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.