A hero to most of the people in the world, and a father to the people of the Nation of South Africa (“Tata” to mean father, as they refer to him), Nelson Mandela is still one of the most prominent and controversial figures of the 21st century.
Here is a detailed and sequential look about Nelson Mandela.
During his time, Nelson Mandela was particularly popular for his political affairs. Having dived into the then nasty political environment as a young man, he would later to rise amid struggle and hardship to become South Africa’s first black president.
In his childhood, Mandela was fortunate enough to get education to the university level. In the tertiary level of Education, the then vibrant young man opted to study Law. This was primarily driven by the then rising resentment against apartheid. For the Africans, the only way to tackle it would be through the law as South Africa was an already established nation. His study saw him learn in two universities; the University of Witwatersrand and the Fort Hare University.
His line of work often saw him get into a lot of trouble frequently with the law. Consequently, he was arrested just as many times, but managed to dodge the bars a few times owing to his affiliation to, and position in the African National Congress Party (ANC).
His affiliation to ANC began when he was living in Johannesburg. While in the city, he got involved in anti-apartheid politics and anti-colonialism politics in general. He got involved with the ANC and set up the Youth League. His political views and ideologies were inspired a great deal by Marxism. This is what would later lead him to his plunder and a consequential 27 year jail term (which was meant to last his life time), and what his critics use against him even now, labeling him a terrorist inspired by communism.
Mandela would later rise to a much higher rank in the ANC in 1952, 4 years after it rose to power in 1948. In 1952, he was given the power of the superintendent of the Defiance Campaign’s Transvaal chapter. 3 years later in 1955, he presided over the Congress of the People.
In 1961, Nelson Mandela became more radical, a move which consequently saw the then government takes a tougher stance against him, prosecuting him successfully and jailing him for life. He initially secretly joined the South African Communist Party, being a believer in Carl Marx’s political and economic ideologies. As a yet new member, he was moderate. However, as time went by, he formed the Umkhonto We Sizwe together with other prominent and radical figures. The grouped was primarily formed to derail the government’s apartheid policies and apartheid life style.
The government took quick action, and Mandela was arrested in 1962, charged of conspiracy to overthrow the government and jailed for his life time His jail term would however be curtailed after 27 years after an international lobby group was formed to campaign for his release. The lobby grew in favor and intensity, and Nelson Mandela was later released in 1990. During his jail term, Mandela served time in three prisons: Robben Island prison, Pollsmoor prison and finally Victor Verster prison.
Advocating freedom and equality
After his release, Mandela joined in talks with President F. W. de Klerk to abolish the apartheid government policies which saw racial segregation in many aspects of the nation, including institutions like hospitals and schools. He also advocated for free and fair multi-racial elections and his pleas were granted in 1994. He led the ANC, and got a majority of the people’s favor, becoming the nation’s first ever black president.
During his term in power, Mandela concentrated on providing vital health care services, eradicating poverty, improving the economy and looking into and solving past injustices.
As a leader, Mandela was just and fair, virtues which came to light when he invited other parties to his cabinet. However, he declined to run for a second term, and retired to focusing his attention on wanting social issues.
After serving his term as president, Nelson Mandela retired and formed the Nelson Mandela Foundation which was aimed at combating HIV/AIDS and poverty. In the international scene, Mandela was a darling with many people, and a source of hope and inspiration for many more He intervened in many wanting political situations like the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial which put the UK and Libya ties at tension.
In his life time, Nelson Mandela won numerous awards despite the criticism from most of his critics. All in total, his honors were more than 250 in number. The most prominent of his awards were the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the Soviet’s Order of Lenin.
Much of Mandela’s social life was marred to a significant degree by his marriage life. During his life-time, Nelson Mandela married three wives and fathered six children in total. He first married Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a lady from his homeland, Transkei. This was in the month of October, 1944. Mandela later married Winnie Madikizela, the nation’s first ever black social worker, in 1958 after he found his first wife had left with the children after he came out of prison. The married lasted until 1996, and two years later in 1998, Mandela married his third wife, Graca Machel, the widow to Samora Machel, the former President of Mozambique. This is what particularly drew a lot of attention, especially from his critics, to him. However, the two did not seem to mind the attention and opinion of critics, and both went forward to announce their love for each other, Mandela in a public announcement and Machel during a radio interview. His children would later bear him 17 grandchildren and many more great grandchildren.
During his life time, Nelson Mandela saw many works of art dedicated to him, being dedicated in many songs and movies. He died at an old age of 95 years, on the 5th of December, 2013 while battling a prolonged respiratory infection. His death was announced world-wide by President Jacob Zuma and mourned by many people.
His body was finally laid to rest on the 15th of December, 2013 at a state funeral held in Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province. The ceremony gained world-wide attendance and Nelson Mandela is still commemorated to date.