Saturday, December 7, 2013

Death of an Icon: Madiba

It was a sad day 5 December 2013 following the death of South African National Icon, former president and national hero Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (aged 95).

For those of you who don't know much about this powerful man, here is a small summery of his big life.

On 18 July 1918, he was born to a Thembu royal family, through his life he studied hard attending the Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League, he became involved in anti-colonial politics. 

Apathied was a doctrine enforced by the South African National Party when came to power in 1948, Apartheid id the separating of races. White supremacists believed they were above those of darker skin color and that is when the injustice and mistreatment of all non-white citizens began, that is when he rose to prominence in the ANC's 1952 with a  Defiance Campaign. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government.

In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa's first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.

Other things he has done to impact lives, Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho.

Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Denounced as a Marxist terrorist by some US conservatives, he nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation".

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” — Nelson Mandela 

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