Nelson Mandela » Why Years Don’t Matter

What is Nelson Mandela famous for?

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

In October 1963 the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and several other men were tried for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy in the infamous Rivonia Trial.

Surprisingly, named after a fashionable suburb of Johannesburg. And also, where raiding police had discovered quantities of arms and equipment at the headquarters of the underground Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Equally important, Nelson Mandela’s speech from the dock, in which he admitted the truth of some of the charges made against him, was a classic defense of liberty and defiance of tyranny.

As a matter of fact, his speech garnered international attention, recognition and even acclamations. Not forgetting, it was published later that year as I Am Prepared to Die.)

Unfortunately, on June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, narrowly escaping the death penalty.

Nelson Mandela
How Nelson Mandela forever changed South Africa -( jmexclusives)

Where was Nelson Mandela born?

Nelson Mandela was born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918.

Important to realize, his mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela.

Not forgetting, his father was a principal counselor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni1.

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valor during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

Notably, Nelson Mandela attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson. Especially, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

When Did Nelson Mandela Die?

Nelson Mandela died on the 5th of December 2013 (at the age of 95). Whereas, he was South Africa’s first black president after spending 27 years in jail.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

Up to date, he is still remembered as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.

In reality, in every year, the 8th of July marks Mandela Day – also known as Nelson-Mandela-International-Day.

It is on this day because this marks the birthday of Nelson Mandela – the South African anti-apartheid leader.

Chiefly, the special day was created by the United Nations (UN) and honors Mandela’s achievements. It has been celebrated every year since 2009.

The UN says: “Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. Mandela Day is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change.”

His Education Background Profile

Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest.

He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.

On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead, arriving there in 1941.

There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorneys – Witkin, Eidelman, and Sidelsky.

Meanwhile, he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission, he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating.

He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela
Why Nelson Mandela is so famous – (jmexclusives)

When Did Nelson Mandela Become The President?

On 10 May 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise, Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson, Mandla Mandela, was installed as head of the Mvezo Traditional Council. At a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality, and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism.

His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived. And also, to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

What Is Nelson Mandela Famous For?

Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse.

Together they had two sons, Madiba Thembekile “Thembi” and Makgatho. And also, two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949.

National Volunteer-in-Chief Of The Defiance Campaign

In 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint program between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress.

He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months of hard labor, suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practice law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.

At the end of 1952, he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela entering politics in 1953 – (jmexclusives)

The Mandela Treason Trial

Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop on 5 December 1956, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial.

Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mandela, were acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country’s first state of emergency and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) on 8 April.

Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial, Mandela married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, on 14 June 1958. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Mandela At All-in Africa Conference

Days before the end of the Treason Trial, Mandela traveled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference. Above all, which resolved that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a national convention on a non-racial constitution.

And also, to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic.

After he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March.

On the contrary, in the face of a massive mobilization of state security, the strike was called off early.

In June 1961, he was asked to lead the Armed Struggle In South Africa. In the end, helping to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation). And also, which launched on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.

Armed Struggle For The Independence

On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa.

Not forgetting, he traveled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle.

For instance, he received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August.

While returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike.

He was convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, which he began serving at the Pretoria Local Prison.

His Transfer To Robben Island

On 27 May 1963, he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June.

Within a month police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hideout in Rivonia, Johannesburg, used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and several of his comrades were arrested.

On 9 October 1963 Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial.

While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous “Speech from the Dock” on 20 April 1964 became immortalized:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Speech From The Dock Quote By Nelson Mandela 

On 11 June 1964 Mandela and seven others were accused and convicted.

And also, the next day being sentenced to life imprisonment. Included in the list were;

  1. Walter Sisulu,
  2. Ahmed Kathrada,
  3. Govan Mbeki,
  4. Raymond Mhlaba,
  5. Denis Goldberg,
  6. Elias Motsoaledi, and
  7. Andrew Mlangeni.

Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white, while the others went to Robben Island.

Mandela’s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son, Thembi, in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October.

When he returned to the prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery, Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee visited him in the hospital.

Later on, Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

His Release From Prison

On 12 August 1988, he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After more than three months in two hospitals.

Thereafter, he was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. Where he spent his last 14 months of imprisonment.

Then again, he was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990. After all, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC. And also, nearly four months after the release of his remaining Rivonia comrades.

Throughout his imprisonment, he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release. Mandela immersed himself in official talks to end white minority rule.

In 1993 he and President F.W. de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994, he voted for the first time in his life.

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