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Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013

Added 8 years ago

Bryan Knight - Year 10 - has written this moving tribute to Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, 95, died on the 5th of December. His death was expected due to his old age and increasing health problems.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, also known as Madiba, was born on July 18, 1918 in a village of Mvezo in Mthatha, South Africa. Mandela in his 20's became highly involved in the anti-apartheid movement. The movement was to stop white supremacy in South Africa and to give blacks equal rights to the whites for a peaceful future in the country. Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo set up the first black law firm in South Africa.

Mandela joined the African National Congress, the ANC, who fought for equal rights. At the time the government was under the apartheid regime which did not allow blacks and whites to marry or be integrated. Mandela led the young in the ANC and many white people also joined and stated their opposition for the apartheid government. He began by leading the ANC by peaceful protests, but speaking out was too high of a risk. In 1956 Mandela and 155 others were prosecuted for treason. After a five year court trial he was set free.

In 1960 a demonstration was held to oppose to apartheid at Sharpeville. 69 black people were killed by the police. The government therefore banned the ANC after holding them account for that demonstration.

In 1961 South Africa left the commonwealth. Millions across the nations supported Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement, so they showed their support by refusing to trade with South Africa. Also, sports teams and famous entertainers refused to go there but in 1962 the government still refused to change their ways.

In 1964, Nelson Mandela was arrested for the second time for sabotage and plotting to overthrow the government. This time he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was sent to Robben Island. Mandela spent 18 years there with the allowance of only one guest every 6 months. He was later moved to another prison.

Mandela showed the world what determination looks like in its best form, even the prison guards admired this about him.

In 1988, the South African government began to make changes. They began to allow blacks and whites to be educated together in universities. As these changes were being made, the calls to free Mandela became louder. The song free Nelson Mandela was sang by The Specials and became a symbol of his release as did his prison number—46664.

1990 South Africa's new president, FW de Klerk, set Mandela free after the two men came to agreement with each other to stop the fighting. They both shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. After his release he spoke out to his supporters and to all South Africans and pleaded for them to let go of their anger and hatred, and to forgive.

In 1991, Mandela became leader of the ANC and due to his lifelong fight for equality, for the first time in 1994 all black people in South Africa could vote. In May of that year he was sworn in as the first black president.

When he was released from jail, people expected him to be filled with vengeance and anger but instead he stepped from his prison cell, took off his overalls that read 46664, and embraced his supporters and oppressors with love and forgiveness. Soon after he successfully arranged meetings between both groups and got them to apologize and to forgive.

If there is one lesson that I have learnt through looking at the life and legacy of a nations father figure, it is the message that when people oppress you or hurt you in any way the key to happiness and peace is forgiveness.

Our job now, as the next generation after Mandela, is to reflect on his life, celebrate his legacy and learn from the mistakes of his oppressors and the triumph of his battle for equality and unity.

The job for our teachers, whether they may be in school or role models we look up to out of school, is to educate us about people like Nelson Mandela and maybe then, we will be one step closer to the 'perfect' world we all long for

To Nelson Mandela, the man who longed for a rainbow nation with a diversity of people, we all thank you for your presence here on earth and your duty to the South African people. We wish you well whilst you restfully sleep.




Richard Lander School