There was no way I wouldn’t join the media today by writing few lines about the biggest news in the world at the moment. South Africa’s first democratically elected president has passed away Thursday evening, 5th of December at his home in Johannesburg, aged 95 years old.
I did not have the pleasure to meet him but I can write about his ideals as I believe that everybody should know who he was, especially the younger generation as that’s a social group he supported the most.
There are enough books (especially his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom) detailing Mr Mandela’s life to realise that there would be no way I could ever summarise everything he’s done during his fight for human rights and education.
Nelson received this name by a tutor but his real name was Rolihlahla, which means “troublemaker” in Xhosa. He did indeed cause some trouble, but for the bad people.
He was a revolutionary, a socialist and a philanthropist who believed in democracy to the point that he’d follow majority decisions even if he disagreed with them.
After spending 27 years in prison (think how much he’s accomplished despite such long period!), he is responsible for the biggest advances in reunifying South Africa and contributed to the negotiations that lead to the end of the apartheid system (separation of races) in 1990. This efforts lead to him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. One year later and only four years since he got out of jail, he becomes president of South Africa and rules for one term.
In 1995, he establishes the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund to help individuals from birth to age 22, particularly orphans of HIV complications (his eldest son died of AIDS ten years later). Although his time as a president ended, he continues with his efforts and creates the Nelson Mandela Foundation to promote social justice, followed by the Mandela Rhodes Foundation four years later, which focuses on building leadership capacities in Africa.
In 2007 (and at 79 years old!), he starts the non-government organisation of elder statesmen, peace activists and human rights advocates to put together their experience and knowledge and to try to find solutions for global problems like HIV, poverty or climate change.
It’s such a shame back in the day technology wasn’t advanced enough to have proper recordings of him and most of the ones available are of poor quality. However, I thought this interview was a really good way to show how determined and confident he was of his ideals.
I would also suggest you to watch the movie (here is the trailer) about the period between his childhood and his election as president. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom has been released on the 29th of November. He was supposed to see it – but passed away before he could. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, his two youngest daughters – on the other hand – were informed of his death while watching the film at the premiere in London yesterday and immediately left the cinema.
To this point, his vision has undoubtedly improved the life of millions and this wonderful achievement will serve as a stable base for the future, not only of South Africa but also for the modern society as his influence had no borders. He never gave up; he has set an example and given hope and that – is certainly priceless.
With my most sincere admiration, rest in peace.