Nelson Mandela: Father of All Humanity

By Rashida Wallace

Nelson Mandela, born on July 18, 1918 as Rolihlahla Mandela, has been a beloved world leader, a symbol of freedom and equality and an inspiration to people of every race and creed for more than 70 years.

As a man in his early 20s, he became actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement and joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942.

As a lawyer and member of the ANC’s leadership, Mandela was arrested on numerous occasions for promoting subversive activity and resistance to the Afrikaners’ Nationalist Party’s increasingly oppressive laws and practices.  Although prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 – 1961, Mandela was found not guilty of illegal activity.  Just like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr, Mandela’s initial approach to fighting oppression was non-violence.  However,  he went on to co-found the militant organization Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961. The group went on to execute a bombing campaign targeting government buildings and in 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

In 1990, he was released from prison after being incarcerated for 27 years.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to abolish South Africa’s oppressive apartheid system in 1993.  Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 – a post he would hold until 1999.

After leaving office, Mandela remained socially active as a human rights advocate.  He founded the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in 1995 – an organization based in South Africa to help children ages 0 to 22 who’ve been orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mandela also founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Mandela-Rhodes Foundation in February 2002.

Nelson Mandela is often referred to as South Africa’s most significant leader and even in recent years, while in fragile health, he remains a symbol of strength and courage to oppressed people everywhere.

Mandela’s birthday, July 18th, is recognized by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day. This holiday was not only established to celebrate his birthday, but to serve as a day to inspire people all over the world to “contribute  and to do good by effecting change within their various communities.” July 18, 2013 will mark Mr. Mandela’s 95th birthday.

 “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nelson Mandela



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