N elson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African statesman, who, for more than 25 years was the world’s most famous political prisoner and then became the first Black President of the Republic of South Africa (1994- 1999). Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, in Umtata, Transkei. He attended Fort Hare College, where he first became involved in politics. Mandela left the Transkei and became a mine policeman at Johannesburg. In 1944, he became a founder member, with Walter Sisulu, Tambo, and Anton Lembede, of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League; he became its national secretary in 1948. 

Mandela advocated united (racial) action against the government’s apartheid policies. In December 1952, he was arrested for his activities against apartheid. In December 1956, he was among 156 people charged with treason. He married Nkosikazi Nomzamo Madikizela, better known as Winnie Mandela, in 1958. In January 1962, Mandela left South Africa secretly and travelled to a PanAfrican conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Algeria, where he received some guerrilla training, and then to London, where he met opposition leaders. He returned to South Africa in July of that year and was captured on August 5. He was convicted subsequently on charges of incitement and illegally leaving the country, he was sentenced to five years in prison. While he was in prison, he and several other activists were put on trial, which came to be known as the Rivonia treason trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 18 years on Robben Island before being transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, Cape Town, in 1982, when a worldwide “Release Mandela” campaign was launched. 

The Government of President F. W. de Klerk released Mandela in February 1990. Mandela assumed the leadership of the ANC. Mandela and de Klerk shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to establish democracy and racial harmony in South Africa. In May 1994, following the country’s first national elections in which all races including Blacks could vote, Mandela became the first Black President of South Africa. Mandela married Samora Moïses Machel, who had been a prominent humanitarian, on his 80th birthday in July 1998 after his divorce from his first wife. In June 1999, he formally retired as President of South Africa. Mandela died in 2013. July 18 is celebrated as Nelson Mandela International Day, to remember Mandela’s achievements in working towards conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, peace and reconciliation 

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.