In order to achieve something great, you must have desire, you must truly want it from the bottom of your heart. Born July 18, 1918, in a small town in South Africa, Nelson Mandela had the greatest passion to do anything to win his country’s independence. He fought for the rights of blacks in South Africa and for helpless people around the world. Motivated by his actions, the president of South Africa, P.W. Botha, imprisoned Mandela for twenty-seven years. When he was released in 1990, he immediately came back into the fight he had left for so long. He was elected president by the people of South Africa in 1994. His term in office ended in 1999, however, he still fought for racial equality and peace. Mandela died on December 5, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Although he has passed, his legacy still exists around the world today. Nelson Mandela should be the man of the century because he helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and his leadership not only affected the people of his country, but also people all around the world.
According to Biography in Context, at the age of 24, Mandela joined the African National Congress which was a group who worked to establish social and political rights for blacks in South Africa. Mandela’s actions in the ANC caused him to be put in prison. Mandela stated that, “his organization only wanted equal rights for South Africans of all races, and added that the only way they would show their unhappiness was by nonviolent disruptive tactics” (Contemporary Black Biography 2). The ANC became illegal causing Mandela to form the Spear of the Nation which was a group that directed sabotage actions against government installations and other symbols of apartheid. These acts of violence resulted in life in prison for Mandela. Although he was cut-off from the entire world, he never lost hope, and the people never forgot this courageous leader. On February 11, 1990, one of the most prodigious events of the year, Mandela was free for the first time in twenty-seven years. In 1993, the nation was moving closer to free and fair elections. On Election Day, in the first-ever democratic election, Mandela had been victorious, and became the first ever black president of the Republic of South Africa.
During his presidency, Mandela focused on issues such as, “health, housing, education, and the development of public utilities and economic stability. The government also introduced legislation requiring workplace safety, overtime pay, and minimum wages” (Contemporary Black Biography 5). Mandela improved his countries living just in the short years that he was in office. The words that once came out of young Mandela’s mouth, “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” (Contemporary Black Biography 3). These words show the power and passion behind the heart of Mandela. He was willing to die for the freedom of his people like Christ died for our sins. The love he had for his country was like the love a mother and father have for their children. His courage, strength, and dedication changed the world forever.
Mandela’s actions were too tremendous to only affect the little country of South Africa. His actions affected many places around the world. He encouraged many people to stand up for their rights of freedom. Although people such as President Reagan, according to NBC News, said the ANC was a terrorist group and they should not be praised and represented around the world because it engaged in, “calculated terror…the mining of roads, the bombing of public places, designed to bring about further repression” (Robert Windrem). I, along with many other people, do not believe this is true. Mandela was only fighting for the freedom which his country deserved, fighting for the happiness of his people, and fighting for the generations to come. The actions that Mandela took were only caused by the first sight of violence from the British police. If you were being controlled, and forced to live your life the way certain people wanted, wouldn’t you do whatever you could to stop it?
Nelson Mandela left a legacy that will last for hundreds of years. The apartheid movement that he led in South Africa, not only affected South Africans, but also affected nations on the other side of the globe. He is a man who will stand out from any other in the past and upcoming centuries. I believe that Nelson Mandela is the man of the century because the world, today, would not be the same if he had never fought for the rights that we all deserve.
Contemporary Black Biography, . “Biography in Context.” Nelson Mandela. Contemporary Black Biography, 05 Dec 2013. Web. 13 Apr 2014. Windrem, Robert. “NBC News.” Nelson Mandela a terrorist until 2008. NBC News, 07 Dec 2013. Web. 13 Apr 2014.