I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
– Nelson Mandela 20 April 1964
Are you prepared to die for a good cause? Let’s say… for your beliefs and principles? This concept may seem overstated or cliché, I mean …. With democracy and human rights things are getting better but you should know that it wasn’t always like that, not even close, sacrifices have been made by our ancestors ; the legendary ones, so we can live the life that they dreamt of. Nelson Mandela was among them, a great man who was prepared to die to conquer racism.
The anti-apartheid (apartheid= discrimination) activist was born on July 18, 1918 in a south African village called mvezo in Umtata under the name of Rolihlahla Mandela (which meant troublemaker). His royal roots enabled him to frequent with enriching minds and powerful examples of black leadership. Although, Mandela wasn’t really politicized until his entrance to college to study law, the turning point was in 1944 when he joined African national congress (ANC = governing political party) and co-founded it’s youth league after the establishment of apartheid (a system that promotes white supremacy/dominance over black people). He was widely known by his contribution in the 1952 Defiance Campaigns (marches or actions of disobediences) and in 1955 congress of the people (a large multi-racial gathering in the purpose of approving the freedom charter for a free democratic Africa), therefore, Mandela was elected as the ANC’s president.
In 1956, the organizers of the freedom charter were accused of treason and served 5 years, this penalty didn’t break our leader’s determination. In fact, as soon as he was discharged, he led an anti-government sabotage campaign; he was convinced that an apartheid would not withdraw without armed resistance. Unfortunately, he was rearrested and sentenced for life imprisonment for conspiring against the nation.
He spent 27 years behind the Robben island bars in which he continued his fight against oppression by teaching prisoners about equality and human rights. Later, the pressure against the government escalated and led to the release of Mandela. He was a legend in his people’s eyes, they saw in him a leader that could spread peace and justice. Actually, he was elected president of South Africa in 1994 with a specific vision. He believed that prioritizing national programs, social services and education was crucial.
In fact, “3 million people were connected to telephone lines, 1.5 million children were brought into the education system, 500 clinics were upgraded or constructed, 2 million people were connected to the electricity grid, water access was extended to 3 million people, and 750,000 houses were constructed, housing nearly 3 million people.”
As Mandela reached his dream of creating a better Africa, he decided to “retire from retirement” -like he said- and devoted himself to philanthropic activities by creating the nelson Mandela foundation, the Nelson Mandela children’s fund, the Mandela rhodes foundation, the Nelson Mandela institute for education and rural development and the 40664 campaign. In 2013, this great leader passed away due to his lung infection leaving a huge legacy to be remembered forever.
Nelson Mandela was indeed the most prominent personality for equality rights in african nations, a man who changed the history of humanity for good, a man who fought fear and injustice to build peace, democracy and prosperity for all, and a living proof that reaching greatness demands pain and struggle.