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Read story of Nelson Mandela
A name to reckon with in the freedom movement, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela popularly known as Nelson Mandela was the first president of South Africa to be elected from 1994 to 1999 in a fully representative democratic election.
Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In South Africa, he is often known as Madiba.
In his entire lifetime Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. He shared the prestigious award with F.W. deKlerk, South Africa’s last white president. Their combined efforts ended apartheid and brought about a peaceful transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa.
Born on July 18, 1918 the foster son of a Thembu chief, Mandela was raised in the traditional, tribal culture of his ancestors, but at an early age learned about the ugly racial discrimination, Apartheid which emerged as one of the most powerful and effective systems of oppression ever conceived.
His early years were that of an impoverished student and law clerk in Johannesburg. His slow political awakening led to the rebirth of a stagnant ANC, a black liberation group that opposed South Africa’s white minority government and apartheid and the formation of its Youth League in the 1950s.
Mandela was initially opposed to violence, but after a massacre of unarmed black South Africans in 1962, he began advocating acts of sabotage against the government. The same year he was arrested and following the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. There he began his twenty-seven year stay in prison on Robben Island. The 400-year-old prison is now a museum.
During his imprisonment, Mandela became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement among South Africa’s black population and among the international community that opposed apartheid.
Mandela rejected several government offers to allow him to leave prison on the condition that he will renounce violence. Following his release on 11 February 1990, Mandela instantly became an international hero.
Three years after his release, South Africans of all races were allowed to vote for the first time in a national election. They selected Mandela as their president, giving him 62% of the vote.
The same person who was once was a symbol of black resistance in South Africa later eventually because the nation’s first black president. He led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994.
As president from 1994 to 1999, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation. Mandela’s government was praised for its treatment of South Africa’s white minorities that produced at last a free, multiracial democracy in South Africa.
Mandela became the oldest elected President of South Africa when he took office at the age of 75 in 1994. He decided not to stand for a second term and retired in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.
After his retirement, one of Mandela's primary commitments has been to fight against AIDS. He later went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organizations.
He has expressed his support for the international ‘Make Poverty History’ movement of which the ONE Campaign is a part. He is a vocal supporter of SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest organization dedicated to raising orphaned and abandoned children.
Three organizations associated with Mandela namely the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation have been established.
In July 2001 Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer. He was treated with a seven-week course of radiation. In June 2004, at the age of 85, Mandela announced that he would be retiring from public life. His health had been declining, and he wanted to enjoy more time with his family. He has appeared in public less often and has been less vocal on topical issues.
The United Nations has pronounced July 18 as Mandela Day which is also his birthday. On this day individuals, communities and organizations are asked to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Nelson Mandela gave to the struggle for social justice.
Despite maintaining a low-profile during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the 93-year-old Mandela made a rare public appearance during the closing ceremony, where he received a "rapturous reception."
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, a book destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history's greatest figures. To millions of people around the world, Nelson Mandela stands, as no other living figure does.
He was one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality.
His autobiography, 'Long Walk to Freedom', ends with these motivational words:
"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died at Johannesburg with the age of 95 on December 5, 2013. Sad, Nelson Mandela is now resting. “He is now at peace.”
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