Nelson Mandela, one of South Africa’s, and the world’s most inspiring people has done so many great things in his lifetime. Born and raised through riches and poor, to learning ways that segregated him just because of race is just some of the things that got him to accomplish so much in his lifetime. A young activists that suffered many penalties just because of what he believed in, shows that he would give up almost everything to eventually end apartheid in South America, and die knowing he did would benefit the lives of millions to come after him.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo, South Africa on July 18th, 1918 (History.com Staff). Nelson’s mother Nonqaphi Nosekeni lived in the village of Qunu (Mandela, 4), and his father Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela lived in Mvezo (Nelson Mandela Foundation). His father worked as a counselor to King Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the leader of the Thembu people (Biography.com).
Rolihlahla was Nelson’s birth name, which commonly translates to “troublemaker” and “pulling the branches of a tree” (Mandela, 4). He was born as a member of the Xhosa clan which his father also belonged to (History.com Staff) . Mandela was also baptized in the Methodist church (Biography.com). When Nelson was young his father lost his job as the counselor to the king over a dispute over colonial magistrate, and shortly after that in 1927, his father died (History.com Staff). So at age 9 Nelson was adopted by his father’s master, Jongintaba, as a sign of respect, and moved to the capital of Thembuland, Mqhekezweni, where the chief lived.
He was given the same responsibilities as his adoptive siblings Justice and Monafu, and was taught as a child ways to become a counselor to a chief, just like his father. Nelson had to quickly adapt to the ways of the Mqhekezweni people, and he grew up playing many games such as pretending to be a king with toys made from branches and clay. As a young child he attended a small, one room school located next to the palace where he lived. He learned common subjects such as english, history, and geography along with Xhosa the language of his family. There he was told by his teacher that his name would be changed to Nelson, instead of Rolihlahla (Biography.com). As a teenager, he attended Wesleyan mission school, where he met his first female friend Mathoma (Biography.com).
As a tradition, since he was the first male of his generation, he was the first one in his family to receive a proper form of education. At Wesleyan he excelled in boxing and track, along with his exceptional smarts (History.com Staff). Since Nelson was adopted by a royal family, he was around many people during his life. He became more and more interested in african heritage because of other chiefs who visited the palace where he lived, to have meetings with his father the king. Also he attended ceremonies of tradition for young men, were Chief Maligaiyil spoke sadly about the history of young black men in South Africa, leading Mandela to his beliefs in equality for all people (Biography.com). From there on, Mandela continued to spread his beliefs for equality. He started at Fort-Hare University, which considered one of the best high level institutes for South African black citizens. He studied law, and as a sophomore he got chosen to be a part of the Student Representative Council (History.com Staff). After altercations on the Student Representative Council over a refusal to agree with terms of a student protest against segregation, he was expelled and returned home to Mqhekezweni (Nelson Mandela Foundation). Upon return, he had learned that a marriage had been arranged for him from his adopted father Jongintaba. He refused to have a marriage forced upon him, so left his family and went to Johannesburg, a large city in South Africa (Biography.com). While in Johannesburg he continued his college by attending University of Witwatersrand, where he started to get involved in anti-racial movements.
His first job was as a security guard on a local gold mine, and next job was as a legal clerk for Witkin, Edelman, and Sidelsky, a law firm. During his work as a legal clerk he enrolled for a LLB at Wits University. As he got busy with his future career he stopped his focus on school and soon later in 1979 completed his LLB through Unisa (Nelson Mandela Foundation). His pause on school mainly started because of the African National Congress and it’s interest with Mandela. HE started his political career in the 1940s and eventually joined the ANC in 1944 (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Because Nelson was young at the time, only 26, him and other young members of the ANC joined together and formed the ANC Youth League, the section dedicated to the youth members of the ANC. The main goal of this was to spread interest and awareness of the issues of the people battling racial segregation around the world. But the main purpose of this organization was to battle apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregations and discrimination in South African Government (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). After his hard work and dedication to the process, Mandela was elected president of the ANCYL in 1950.
On June 22, 1952 Nelson Mandela issued a speech to over 10,000 South African citizens protesting apartheid, which sparked the campaign process against this. He was arrested and spent 2 night in jail because of his free speech against what is truly wrong. This is where it mostly started, and people started to hear what was going on and wanted a stop to it (Nelson Mandela Foundation). In 1952 Nelson was elected president of one of the specific spots for the ANC in Transvaal. Because of his interests, he and Oliver Tambo, a friend from the ANC and College started a law firm in Johannesburg and names it “Mandela and Tambo” (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Going back and forth between the ANC and the law firm brought many ideas to Mandela, and he gained more knowledge of everything that was happening around him in the world. In 1955 the ANC proposed a Freedom Charter, calling for the creation of a area that was not segregated based on race.The government did not take this well. A year later Mandela and 156 others were arrested with charges of high treason, triggering the Treason Trial which lasted until 1961 (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Because of that whenever Mandela had to leave the country, he had to ask the government for permission before hand.
On March 21st, 1961 the ANC and PAC were banned after protests resulting in deaths and damage. Two months later Mandela spoke to the government himself and wanted for them not to turn into a republic so they could make a form of government that would not be based off of race. Because of his frustration and lack of response from the government, he secretly left the country without consent in 1962 to undergo military training and get support from other African countries because of the ANC’s armed struggles (Nelson Mandela Foundation). In March of 1962 he called for strikes against apartheid and soon later Mandela and 8 others were arrested with conspiracy to overthrow a government, for encouraging strikes, and for leaving the country illegally. This was called the Rivonia Trial, which Nelson gave his “I Am Prepared to Die” Speech during, where he talked about how he would be ready to die to fight for what is right and to get what everyone deserves. The speech is thought to be one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century (Nelson Mandela Foundation). On June 24th, 1964 after hard fights and struggles, the eight defendants of the Rivonia Trial, along with Mandela, were sentenced to life in prison (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Mandela spent 27 years in prison. While in prison he was limited to seeing his wife Winnie only twice every year (History.com Staff) . He spent 18 years at Robben Island, and the rest of the time he jumped from prison to prison (Nelson Mandela Foundation).
While he was imprisoned, his mother and eldest son died, and he secretly started writing his book, “Nelson Mandela” and autobiography about his life, so he could tell people about if you work hard enough at something, no matter what happens something good can always come out of it. In 1985, P.W. Botha, the current president of South Africa, told Nelson he was free to leave prison, but he refused to leave until he insisted that the government dismantled apartheid completely (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Soon F.W. de Klerk became the President of South Africa. He soon came to agreements with Mandela to officially dismantle apartheid, and him and his 8 colleagues were all freed from prison. Mandela returned to his home in Johannesburg to his wife Winnie. In 1994, led by Mandela, the ANC ran for presidency in South Africa. They won the election with 62 percent of votes, and Mandela proudly became the first black head of state in South Africa and the first to be elected in a fully representative democratic election (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). While he was president he wanted to have national conservation. He worked to show South Africa’s white population that they were represented in the government and that he would not treat them any differently (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic).
When he entered presidency over 12 million citizens lacked clean water, 23 million had no form of electricity, and almost 2 million children were not provided with an education. He made it a goal to change that. In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for providing hope for billions of people and showing that world peace is possible. Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, a charity which works to help children and young adults from age 1 to 22 years old, specifically ones suffering from the AIDs crisis (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic).By 1999, he had housed nearly 3 million people, and was able to provide clean water, electricity, schooling, and much more for his citizens (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Mandela had also introduced free healthcare for children under the age of 6 and for pregnant women. Mandela retired as president in 1999 and was followed by his deputy Thabo Mbeki (History.com Staff).In 2001, Mandela was treated for prostate cancer and later scaled back public appearances because of his health issues.
Over time Mandela grew old, and had many health problems. Following a hospital visit in 2013, Graca, his wife, cancelled an appearance in London because she wanted to stay with him at his side (Biography.com). Soon after on December 15th 2013 Nelson Mandela died at 95 years old from a lung infection (History.com Staff). Throughout Nelson’s life he had accomplished so much. He received over 260 awards such as The Soviet Union Lenin Peace Prize, and The Antonio Agostinho Neto Order which is the highest honor of the People’s Republic of Angola (Anirudh, Learnodo-Newtonic). Before he died he was able to finish his autobiography on his life. In the book Nelson writes “I dedicate this book to my six children, Nadiba and Makaziwe (my first daughter), who are now deceased, and to Makgatho, Makaziwe, Zenani, and Zindzi, whose support and love I treasure..” (Mandela, 2) . He published many more books in his lifetime, and is remembered by so many.
Prior to his death his close friend Zuma had many kind words to say about him. “We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in our thoughts.” (Biography.com) he says. He is explaining to everyone mourning the loss of Mandela, that they need to pray for him and his family because they are mourning as well. The loss of a man like him is something that may be hard to get over without the sympathy and thoughts of everyone. He also said “Wherever we are in our country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed, or dispossessed by another.”(Zuma, Biography.com). He says this because he needs people to realize how much impact Nelson really had on the world. The citizens of South Africa would not be where they are if Mandela had not done what he did, and it needs to be truly appreciated and remembered. They are able to live in an environment that now is free from separations and people being degraded because of the way they look. These are just some of millions of ways Mandela is remembered in our world today.
July 18th, the day Nelson was born, is now remembered as “Nelson Mandela International Day”, a day set aside to encourage citizens to remember Nelson and to give back the way he did during his life to us. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is a man that will never be forgotten in our world today. The amount of lives he was able to change because of all he did to speak out against what was wrong, should make you believe you can do the same, even if it means going to prison for 27 years to get your point across. He is truly a blessing to all the people of South Africa, and an inspiration for people now and many more to come in the future.