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Nelson Mandela – A gentleman with lofty values

17-07-2017 07:00 PM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream

Nelson Mandela – A gentleman with lofty values | My Indian Dream

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Remembering the true patriot, Nelson Mandela

Born on 18th July 1918, Nelson Mandela lived a life dedicated for uplifting his fellow countrymen and freeing them from the clutches of apartheid to establish democracy in South Africa. He is rightly called the Father of the Nation and served as the first President of South Africa.

 Mandela was a revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who strived and focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid (discrimination on grounds of race).

Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, Transkei. As a child, he was inspired by elders' stories of his ancestor’s valour during wars of resistence and decided that he too would contribute to the freedom struggle of his people.

 He studied law at the University of Fort Hare. While working as a lawyer in Johannesburg, he became active in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) and co-founded its youth league in 1944. He and his comrades were committees to overthrow the apartheid rule that privileged the whites. He was imprisoned a number of times and in 1962, he was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state.

He was on trial for sabotage in what became known as the famous Rivonia Trial. The speech that he delivered while facing the death penalty gave him global recognition and the world came to know about the injustice against the blacks that was prevailing in South Africa. The speech became popular as the "Speech from the Dock" of which the following last lines became immortalised:

“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."

Brave Mandela uttered these words when it was likely that he would be sentenced to death as he valued the freedom of his people more than his life. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, instead.

After serving 27 years in prison, he was released in 1990 amidst growing domestic and international pressure by President F.W. de Klerk. Mandela and de Klerk negotiated an end to apartheid and organised the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela won to become the President. In 1999, he declined a second presidential term and was succeeded by his deputy, by working Thabo Mbeki. Mandela continued to provide hiby working with the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS. He passed away on 5th December, 2013 at his home.

Nelson Mandela was a humanist who held great values of dignity, forgiveness and leadership that helped to unite a nation that was divided by race. Among the innumerable awards with which he was honoured worldwide, he was also conferred with India’s highest civilian honour- Bharat Ratna. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

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