Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Born: July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, Cape Province, South Africa
Nationality: South African
Awards: Anne Frank medal for human rights and tolerance, Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo, Umtata district in Transkei, South Africa. His father was the chief of the Thembu tribe. As a child, Mandela took part in the ceremonies and other activities of his tribe. However, he gained a complete education, pursuing degree at the University of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand. Mandela was a good student and he was qualified with a degree in law in 1942. During his studies, he became more aware of the racial separation and inequality faced by black people.

Mandela and Prison

In 1944, Nelson Mandela stepped into the world of politics by joining the ANC (African National Congress), a black nationalist movement which opposed the white government in South Africa and its policy of racial injustice, called apartheid. But the government banned the ANC in 1960.

For being a part of the group, Mandela was caught and jailed in 1962. He was convicted of high treason and sentenced to life in jail in 1964. He soon started serving the sentence as captive 46664 on Robben Island, Cape Town. He eventually became a ‘prison-bound’ martyr and a global symbol of struggle against racial discrimination.

Life after Prison

State president F.W. de Klerk removed the ban on the ANC and declared the release of Mandela from the jail on February 2, 1990. Mandela returned to lead the ANC and started the office as the chosen President of ANC, based in Shell House.

Though the White South Africans were ready to share the power, the black South Africans needed total control as well as complete transfer of power. Because of this, violent outbreaks became common. Even so, Mandela did wonders to achieving a subtle balance of intense negotiation and political pressure among armed resistance.

Leadership as President

In 1994, South Africa conducted its first democratic election. The final result of the political election was in favor of Nelson Mandela who became South Africa’s very first black president. As a president, he worked to simplify the changeover of a minority to a majority black rule.

He wrapped up the apartheid rule and set up a new Constitution, based on which a solid central government determined by majority rule was established that assured the rights of unprivileged. He presented new reforms in state economic policy to motivate land reform, fight poverty, and broaden health care services.

Life after the Presidency

After his effective first term, Mandela refused to contest for the second term and also retired from politics. However, he extended to stay active on social activities as he raised finances for constructing schools and health care facilities in the rural areas of South Africa.

Since 2004, Mandela has been struggling with diminishing health, which worsened in 2011 when he was put in the hospital due to a breathing ailment. He has been admitted into the hospital several times after that because of a lung infection, the latest being in June 8, 2013. At present, Mandela is on life-support system.

Awards and Achievements

Nelson Mandela is the honorable recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace jointly with de Klerk in 1993. He dedicated his prize to Mahatma Gandhi, by whom he was seriously inspire. In 2009, The UN General Assembly announced Mandela’s birthday as Mandela Day as an attempt to pay homage and respect to his impressive work in the ‘anti-apartheid’ movement. Also, he is the proud author of the international top seller Long Walk to Freedom: An Autobiography of Nelson Mandela.