Nelson Mandela: A Long Walk to Immortality
The most respected world leader in the late 20th century, Nelson Mandela is being remembered for his life-long battle against injustice and apartheid in Africa. Mandela lived in the era of racial discrimination and fought to implement the democratic and equal relations in his country. After 27 years in prison, he helped to prevent the civil war and was chosen the country’s first black president. He went the way from a prison cell to presidential chair and achieved the universal respect around the world.
His amazing life story, his charisma and sense of humor explain the extraordinary global appeal.
Nelson Mandela was born on 18th of July, 1918 in the village of Mvezo in South Africa. He had 12 brothers and sisters and was the first child in his family who went to school. His given name was Rolihlahla that meant “troublemaker,” the English name “Nelson” was given to him by his English teacher. (1) At the age of 12, he started to learn the art of leadership from the older men in the village. That was the time when he began to notice the inequality of life in South Africa. When he went to the Healdtown College, this diversity became even more obvious to him.
At college, he found out about the African National Congress (ANC) that defended the rights of black Africans. He started to attend the ANC meetings in 1941 and helped to manage the newly founded Youth League. When the extremist National Party was elected to the Government, it started to implement the policy of apartheid. Mandela felt that South Africa would become the place of tension for black Africans. In 1950, he became the president of the ANC’s Youth League and was widely recognized in public for his “defiance campaign.” In 1956, he was arrested on the charges of the treason but was acquitted in 1961 due to the lack of evidence. (2)
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In 1963, Mandela went abroad to gather money for the armed protest. When he returned home, he was arrested. While he was in prison, the police captured other ANC members who planned the armed resistance against the state. Mandela was sentenced to life on Robben Island. His speech from the dock became one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century. (1) Mandela’s 27 years in prison were spent in a little cell with no proper bed. All visitors, books and letters were rigidly checked. He secretly started to write his autobiography which was published and called the Long Walk to Freedom.
In 1990, the government finally released Mandela because of the internal pressure. It was a global news event, watched by millions around the world. In 1993, South Africa had its first democratic election and Mandela was elected as the first black president. (3) During his presidency, Nelson Mandela took the role of global statesman. He looked for the ways to attract investments to the country and rebuild its international image. He was always surrounded by famous figures, from popstars and models to politicians. Nelson’s presidency ended in 1999 and the final chapter of his life began. He decided to spend more time with his family and friends and announced the end of his public life.
Nelson Mandela died on the 5th of December in 2013 at the age of 95. He had been suffering from the respiratory problems caused by prison life. The country went into a 10-day mourning period. (2) His body laid in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for 3 days for the public to say goodbye. Mandela was buried in Qunu and the ceremony was marked and attended by locals and different famous people including the Prince of Wales.
Nelson Mandela is one of few statesmen who has gained the universal respect. His role in fighting apartheid and his imprisonment brought him the international reputation of a great negotiator and peacemaker. Nelson Mandela is the leader among leaders, the emblem of dignity and fortitude. Truly the Father of the Nation that showed how wisdom could triumph over force.