Nelson Mandela, the great anti-apartheid revolutionary is now dead.
Called the Father of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is regarded as a great leader, a visionary and a philanthropist who went on to become the first Black President of South Africa between 1994 and 1999, and brought in several radical changes which changed the country for ever. He spent 27 years in jail for following his vision and his mission of eradicating apartheid from South Africa and subsequently the whole world. In the year 1993, he received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
He is often termed as South Africa’s Gandhi. He once said to his Indian friend, “You gave us Gandhi, we gave you the Mahatma”. He had great respect for Mahatma Gandhi, and said to be deeply influenced by the Satyagrah movement.
However, great wars are won by giving great sacrifices and Nelson Mandela was no exception. In his fight against the cruel tradition of apartheid and colonialism, he had to cross the border line several times, often putting at stake human rights and non-violence.
Some of the interesting facts about Nelson Mandela and his movement of anti-apartheid:
His Roots: He was born in the royal family of Thembu tribe; in fact, his father the chief of Mvezo, the village he was born in Transkei, South Africa. Mandela’s ancestors were paramount tribal chiefs in the 19th century, and his clan’s name was Madiba, from which the name Mandela has been derived. He is often called as Madiba or sometimes “Tata” which translates to “Father”.
Militant Outfit? Although he shunned violent ways of carrying forward his anti-apartheid movement in later years, he formed Umkhonto we Sizwe, a banned militant outfit in 1961 which was responsible for several deadly attacks on government establishments and killing innocent lives. During his final trial, he confessed and pleaded guilty to 156 acts of public violence including planting bombs at Jews locations, mobilizing terrorists outfits etc. Due to the violent methods opted by this organization, and the association of African National Congress in this fiasco, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher both had declared AFC as a terrorist organization.
Friends with Dictators?: As a president, he purchased billions worth of ammunition and weapons which had little or no use considering the weak economy of the country at that time. Some of the defense deals he finalized are still questioned. It is also said that he was friendly with some of the cruelest dictators of our time including Gaddafi.
His Picture were Banned: At one time, South African government had banned all pictures and images of Nelson Mandela, all over the country. In case anyone was found to carry his images, imprisonment was the verdict.
His Prison Sentence: While serving his prison term at Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years prison sentence, his eyes and lungs were permanently damaged as he was required to work hard under sun without any protection to eyes.
Personal Life: Nelson Mandela’s personal life was not peaceful. He lost his father when he was 9 years old. His first son Thembi died in a car accident in 1969. His wife Winnie had an affair with Dali Mpofu, which resulted in their divorce.
Dancing?: Nelson Mandela specialized in Ballroom dancing, as he loved doing that. He has also appeared in one feature film, titled Malcom X which came out in 1992. Before he died, Canada honored Nelson Mandela by making him an honorary citizen of Canada. He was the 5th person to be awarded such honorary Canadian citizenship.
One his most famous quotes which will always guide future leaders and visionaries: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
May his legend never die. RIP.