Nelson Mandela is one of those rare characters in history who transcends mere descriptions and whose fame reaches to even the farthest corners of the globe. Nelson Mandela was born into a highly troubled society at a time when his likely prospects were bleak (even as tribal royalty) – he would grow to lead a movement, become an imprisoned martyr, and rise above any and all expectations to lead his nation into a new future. Nelson Mandela’s accomplishments earned him the Nobel Peace prize and a place of remembrance as long as history is recorded.
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Nelson Mandela Early Life
He was born in 1918 in Mvezo, Transkei, South Africa. His father was a chief of the Thembu tribe and Nelson Mandela was born to his third of four wives. When Mandela was nine-years-old his father and chief died, he was then adopted by Jongintaba Dalindyebo, another high-ranking member of the Thembu. He was sent to learn at a local missionary school and was the first in his family to receive a formal education. Nelson Mandela’s education would continue to the elite University of Fort Hare.
Mandela was dismissed his first year when he joined other students in a political demonstration. Things didn’t get any better when he was forced to flee from home to avoid an arranged marriage.
Nelson Mandela Activism
Mandela would continue his studies by correspondence before studying law. In this time he made many friends and contacts amongst the anti-racial discrimination movement. In 1944, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) He would also meet his wife that year with whom Nelson Mandela would have four children.
Once apartheid was officially established in 1948, his commitment to politics redoubled. Along with the ANC, Mandela would participate in strikes, protests, and boycotts throughout the country. In 1952, he was a partner in the nation’s first black law firm and focused on fighting on behalf of other black citizens.
The activism continued, but the violence began to escalate. Armed factions were created in response to heavy police crackdowns. Mandela was tried for treason for the first time but acquitted. After the Sharpeville shooting where police killed over 60 protesters, Mandela would help create the militant resistance faction named Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”).
The Spear of the Nation would conduct a sabotage campaign against the South African government. A short time later Mandela and a number of leaders in this resistance would be arrested in 1962 and once again tried for treason. They were all nearly executed.
At the trial, Mandela famously said:
“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.” -Nelson Mandela quotes
Nelson Mandela in Prison and His Return
Mandela would spend the next 27 years in prison. In that time he continued his education, became a mentor to the other inmates, and remained a symbol for the anti-apartheid movements. The Free Mandela campaign in the 80’s would make him famous the world over. In 1990 the president of South Africa ordered his release.
Shortly afterward he would be a key figure in the political deal-making around the ending of apartheid – something that earned him the Nobel Peace prize. At the next election over 20 million black South Africans would cast ballots, and in 1994 Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.
He would create a series of programs aimed at aiding the black South African population, reforming many of the governmental and legal systems, and would assist in repairing and calming relations between white and black citizens.
He would finish his single term as president, at the age of 80, and would spend the rest of his life promoting causes such as Aids awareness. Because of the many Nelson Mandela accomplishments, the United Nations has deemed July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day”.
In December 2013, the world stopped to watch the funeral service of this great man who made such a difference in so many lives. Read more on Mandela with ‘Knowing Mandela’ on Geeker to learn how he truly changed the world.
Watch this touching video of Mandela’s journey to his final resting place:
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