Nelson Mandela

Image Credit: Flickr User Duncan, via CC

Nelson Mandela was a South African politician. He was the first black president of the South Africa. He served as president from 1994 to 1999. The world lost him on 5th December 2103 at the age of 95.

Nelson Mandela was born as Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918, in a small village Mvezo, in South Africa. He got the name ‘Nelson’ by his teacher on the first day of his school. He was the first person in his family to go to school.

As this little boy grew and became more aware of his surroundings, he became conscious of Apartheid all around him. In those times, Apartheid was a practice in South Africa where people of African race were not treated as equals with the people of other races. Nelson absolutely detested it. He firmly believed that all humans should be treated as equals.

By the time he reached college, he got involved in protests against apartheid. In 1941, he was expelled from the college, but that did not break his determination to fight against apartheid. In 1944, at a young age of 26, he became a leader in African National Congress Youth League, a political party whose main agenda was to fight against apartheid and wipe it out from the country. The African Nation Congress(ANC) looked up to Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi for his non violent ways of protesting against the misdoings of the government.

By 1948, Nelson Mandela spearheaded a full blown anti-apartheid movement in the country. He was arrested many times and sent to jail for his protests. In 1962, he was being sentenced to life imprisonment by the government. He was sent to a secluded Robben Island to serve his life sentence. After spending 27 years in jail, Mandela was released in 1990. While working in the prison quarry, he contracted tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the respiratory system.

In 1993, Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against apartheid. He was considered a hero by not only his country men, but by the entire world as he brought racial equality in his country. In 2009, the UN General Assembly declared July 18, Nelson Mandela’s birthday, as “Mandela Day” to mark his contribution to world freedom.

In 1994, he was elected president of the country in a first ever fully democratic election process. He was a much loved leader. Mandela’s term ended on 14 June 1999. Mandela had never planned on serving a second term in office. Mandela is still loved by his people and fondly known as ‘Madiba’, meaning protector of the world.

For all the sacrifices he has made for his nation, he is held in deep respect within South Africa as the “Father of the Nation.”

 

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