"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 will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to see realised. But if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." Mandela's Rivonia Trial Speech, 1964
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (/mænˈdɛlə/; 18 July 1918– 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. A Xhosa, Mandela was born in Mvezo to the Thembu royal family. Nelson Mandela, whose second name is Rolihlahla, was born on 18 July 1918 in Mvezo, near Qunu. He was the son of Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Henry Mgadla Mandela, chief councillor to the paramount chief of the Tembu. He spent his early childhood in the Transkei, being groomed to become a chief. Mandela matriculated at Healdtown Methodist Boarding School and enrolled at Fort Hare University College, where he met Oliver Tambo. It was at Fort Hare that he first became involved in student politics, and he was expelled in 1940 after participating in a student protest.
Mandela left the Transkei, partly to avoid an arranged marriage, and moved to Johannesburg where he was employed as a mine policeman. Shortly after this he met Walter Sisulu, who helped him obtain articles with a legal firm. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of the Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC and co-founding its Youth League. After the National Party's white-only government established apartheid a system of racial segregation that privileged whites he and the ANC committed themselves to the apartheid government's overthrow. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC's Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 anti-apartheid Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. In 1962, he was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
After taking part in the unsuccessful protest to prevent the forced relocation of all black people from the Sophiatown suburb of Johannesburg in February 1955, Mandela concluded that violent action would prove necessary to end apartheid and white minority rule. He advised Sisulu to request weaponry from the People's Republic of China, which was denied; though the Chinese government supported the anti-apartheid struggle, they believed the movement insufficiently prepared for guerilla warfare. With the involvement of the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People's Congress, the South African Congress of Trade Unions and the Congress of Democrats, the ANC planned a Congress of the People, calling on all South Africans to send in proposals for a post-apartheid era. Based on the responses, a Freedom Charter was drafted by Rusty Bernstein, calling for the creation of a democratic, non-racialist state with the nationalisation of major industry. When the charter was adopted at a June 1955 conference in Kliptown, attended by 3,000 delegates, police cracked down on the event, but it remained a key part of Mandela's ideology. Following the end of a second ban in September 1955, Mandela went on a working holiday to Transkei to discuss the implications of the Bantu Authorities Act, 1951 with local tribal leaders, also visiting his mother and Noengland before proceeding to Cape Town.
In March 1956, he received his third ban on public appearances, restricting him to Johannesburg for five years, but he often defied it. Mandela's marriage broke down and Evelyn left him, taking their children to live with her brother. Initiating divorce proceedings in May 1956, she claimed that Mandela had physically abused her; he denied the allegations, and fought for custody of their children. She withdrew her petition of separation in November, but Mandela filed for divorce in January 1958; the divorce was finalised in March, with the children placed in Evelyn's care. During the divorce proceedings, he began courting and politicising a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, whom he married in Bizana in June 1958. She later became involved in ANC activities, spending several weeks in prison. Together they had two children: Zenani, born in February 1959, and Zindziswa, born in December 1960.
Apartheid legislation impacted all areas of life In December 1956, Mandela was arrested alongside most of the ANC national executive, accused of "high treason" against the state. Held in Johannesburg Prison amid mass protests, they underwent a preparatory examination before being granted bail. The defence's refutation began in January 1957, overseen by defence lawyer Vernon Berrangé, and continued until adjourning in September. In January 1958, Oswald Pirow was appointed to prosecute the case, and in February the judge ruled that there was "sufficient reason" for the defendants to go on trial in the Transvaal Supreme Court. The formal Treason Trial began in Pretoria in August 1958, with the defendants successfully applying to have the three judges all linked to the governing National Party replaced. In August, one charge was dropped, and in October the prosecution withdrew its indictment, submitting a reformulated version in November which argued that the ANC leadership committed high treason by advocating violent revolution, a charge the defendants denied.
In April 1959, Africanists dissatisfied with the ANC's united front approach founded the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC); Mandela disagreed with the group's racially exclusionary views, describing them as "immature" and "naïve". Both parties took part in an anti-pass campaign in early 1960, in which Africans burned the passes that they were legally obliged to carry. One of the PAC-organised demonstrations was fired upon by police, resulting in the deaths of 69 protesters in the Sharpeville massacre. The incident brought international condemnation of the government and resulted in rioting throughout South Africa, with Mandela publicly burning his pass in solidarity. Responding to the unrest, the government implemented state of emergency measures, declaring martial law and banning the ANC and PAC; in March, they arrested Mandela and other activists, imprisoning them for five months without charge in the unsanitary conditions of the Pretoria Local prison. Imprisonment caused problems for Mandela and his co-defendants in the Treason Trial; their lawyers could not reach them, and so it was decided that the lawyers would withdraw in protest until the accused were freed from prison when the state of emergency was lifted in late August 1960. Over the following months, Mandela used his free time to organise an All-In African Conference near Pietermaritzburg, Natal, in March 1961, at which 1,400 anti-apartheid delegates met, agreeing on a stay-at-home strike to mark 31 May, the day South Africa became a republic. On 29 March 1961, six years after the Treason Trial began, the judges produced a verdict of not guilty, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to convict the accused of "high treason", since they had advocated neither communism nor violent revolution; the outcome embarrassed the government.
MK, the SACP, and African tour: 1961–62 Thatched room at Liliesleaf Farm, where Mandela hid Disguised as a chauffeur, Mandela travelled the country incognito, organising the ANC's new cell structure and the planned mass stay-at-home strike. Referred to as the "Black Pimpernel" in the press a reference to Emma Orczy's 1905 novel The Scarlet Pimpernel a warrant for his arrest was put out by the police. Mandela held secret meetings with reporters, and after the government failed to prevent the strike, he warned them that many anti-apartheid activists would soon resort to violence through groups like the PAC's Poqo. He believed that the ANC should form an armed group to channel some of this violence in a controlled direction, convincing both ANC leader Albert Luthuli who was morally opposed to violence and allied activist groups of its necessity. Inspired by the actions of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement in the Cuban Revolution, in 1961 Mandela, Sisulu, and Slovo co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation", abbreviated MK). Becoming chairman of the militant group, Mandela gained ideas from Marxist literature on guerilla warfare by Mao and Che Guevara as well as from the military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. Although initially declared officially separate from the ANC so as not to taint the latter's reputation, it later became widely recognised that MK was the party's armed wing.
Most early MK members were white communists who were able to conceal Mandela in their homes; after hiding in communist Wolfie Kodesh's flat in Berea, Mandela moved to the communist-owned Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, there joined by Raymond Mhlaba, Slovo, and Bernstein, who put together the MK constitution. Although in later life Mandela denied, for political reasons, ever being a member of the Communist Party, historical research published in 2011 strongly suggested that he had joined in the late 1950s or early 1960s. This was confirmed by both the SACP and the ANC after Mandela's death. According to the SACP, he was not only a member of the party, but also served on its Central Committee. "We of Umkhonto have always sought to achieve liberation without bloodshed and civil clash. We hope, even at this late hour, that our first actions will awaken everyone to a realization of the dangerous situation to which Nationalist policy is leading. We hope that we will bring the Government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that both government and its policies can be changed before matters reach the desperate stage of civil war."
Mandela stated that they chose sabotage because it was the least harmful action, did not involve killing, and offered the best hope for racial reconciliation afterwards; he nevertheless acknowledged that should this have failed then guerrilla warfare might have been necessary.
Statement released by MK to announce the start of their sabotage campaign Operating through a cell structure, MK planned to carry out acts of sabotage that would exert maximum pressure on the government with minimum casualties; they sought to bomb military installations, power plants, telephone lines, and transport links at night, when civilians were not present. Mandela stated that they chose sabotage because it was the least harmful action, did not involve killing, and offered the best hope for racial reconciliation afterwards; he nevertheless acknowledged that should this have failed then guerrilla warfare might have been necessary. Soon after ANC leader Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MK publicly announced its existence with 57 bombings on Dingane's Day (16 December) 1961, followed by further attacks on New Year's Eve. The ANC decided to send Mandela as a delegate to the February 1962 meeting of the Pan-African Freedom Movement for East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Leaving South Africa in secret via Bechuanaland, on his way Mandela visited Tanganyika and met with its president, Julius Nyerere. Arriving in Ethiopia, Mandela met with Emperor Haile Selassie I, and gave his speech after Selassie's at the conference. After the symposium, he travelled to Cairo, Egypt, admiring the political reforms of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and then went to Tunis, Tunisia, where President Habib Bourguiba gave him £5,000 for weaponry. He proceeded to Morocco, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Senegal, receiving funds from Liberian President William Tubman and Guinean President Ahmed Sékou Touré. Leaving Africa for London, England, he met anti-apartheid activists, reporters, and prominent politicians. Returning to Ethiopia, he began a six-month course in guerrilla warfare, but completed only two months before being recalled to South Africa.
Imprisonment On 5 August 1962, police captured Mandela along with fellow activist Cecil Williams near Howick. Various rumours have circulated suggesting that the authorities were tipped off with regard to Mandela's whereabouts, although Mandela himself gave this little credence. One idea was that his location had been revealed to South African police by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which feared that Mandela was a communist; this claim later received support from an ex-U.S. diplomat who claimed involvement in the operation. Jailed in Johannesburg's Marshall Square prison, Mandela was charged with inciting workers' strikes and leaving the country without permission. Representing himself with Slovo as legal advisor, Mandela intended to use the trial to showcase "the ANC's moral opposition to racism" while supporters demonstrated outside the court. Moved to Pretoria, where Winnie could visit him, in his cell he began correspondence studies for a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of London. His hearing began in October, but he disrupted proceedings by wearing a traditional kaross, refusing to call any witnesses, and turning his plea of mitigation into a political speech. Found guilty, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment; as he left the courtroom, supporters sang "Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika".
In July 1963, police raided Liliesleaf Farm, arresting those they found there and uncovering paperwork documenting MK's activities, some of which mentioned Mandela. The Rivonia Trial began at Pretoria Supreme Court in October, with Mandela and his comrades charged with four counts of sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government; their chief prosecutor was Percy Yutar. Judge Quartus de Wet soon threw out the prosecution's case for insufficient evidence, but Yutar reformulated the charges, presenting his new case from December until February 1964, calling 173 witnesses and bringing thousands of documents and photographs to the trial. Although four of the accused denied involvement with MK, Mandela and the five-other accused admitted sabotage but denied that they had ever agreed to initiate guerrilla war against the government. They used the trial to highlight their political cause; at the opening of the defence's proceedings, Mandela gave his three-hour "I Am Prepared to Die" speech. That speech—which was inspired by Castro's "History Will Absolve Me" was widely reported in the press despite official censorship. The trial gained international attention; there were global calls for the release of the accused from the United Nations and World Peace Council, while the University of London Union voted Mandela to its presidency. On 12 June 1964, justice De Wet found Mandela and two of his co-accused guilty on all four charges; although the prosecution had called for the death sentence to be applied, the judge instead condemned them to life imprisonment.
Robben Island: 1964–82 Mandela and his co-accused were transferred from Pretoria to the prison on Robben Island, remaining there for the next 18 years. Isolated from non-political prisoners in Section B, Mandela was imprisoned in a damp concrete cell measuring 8 feet (2.4 m) by 7 feet (2.1 m), with a straw mat on which to sleep. Verbally and physically harassed by several white prison wardens, the Rivonia Trial prisoners spent their days breaking rocks into gravel, until being reassigned in January 1965 to work in a lime quarry. Mandela was initially forbidden to wear sunglasses, and the glare from the lime permanently damaged his eyesight. At night, he worked on his LLB degree which he was obtaining from the University of London through a correspondence course with Wolsey Hall, Oxford, but newspapers were forbidden, and he was locked in solitary confinement on several occasions for possessing smuggled news clippings. Initially classified as the lowest grade of prisoner, Class D, he was permitted one visit and one letter every six months, although all mail was heavily censored. The political prisoners took part in work and hunger strikes the latter considered largely ineffective by Mandela to improve prison conditions, viewing this as a microcosm of the anti-apartheid struggle. ANC prisoners elected him to their four-man "High Organ" along with Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, and Raymond Mhlaba, and he involved himself in a group representing all political prisoners on the island, Ulundi, through which he forged links with PAC and Yu Chi Chan Club members. Initiating the "University of Robben Island", whereby prisoners lectured on their own areas of expertise, he debated socio-political topics with his comrades.
His firstborn son Thembi died in a car accident the following year; Mandela was forbidden from attending either funeral. His wife was rarely able to visit, being regularly imprisoned for political activity Though attending Christian Sunday services, Mandela studied Islam. He also studied Afrikaans, hoping to build a mutual respect with the warders and convert them to his cause. Various official visitors met with Mandela, most significantly the liberal parliamentary representative Helen Suzman of the Progressive Party, who championed Mandela's cause outside of prison. In September 1970, he met British Labour Party politician Dennis Healey. South African Minister of Justice Jimmy Kruger visited in December 1974, but he and Mandela did not get on. His mother visited in 1968, dying shortly after, and his firstborn son Thembi died in a car accident the following year; Mandela was forbidden from attending either funeral. His wife was rarely able to visit, being regularly imprisoned for political activity, and his daughters first visited in December 1975; Winnie got out of prison in 1977 but was forcibly settled in Brandfort, still unable to visit him. From 1967, prison conditions improved; black prisoners were given trousers rather than shorts, games were permitted, and the standard of their food was raised. In 1969, an escape plan for Mandela was developed by Gordon Bruce, but it was abandoned after the conspiracy was infiltrated by an agent of the South African Bureau of State Security (BOSS), who hoped to see Mandela shot during the escape. In 1970, Commander Piet Badenhorst became commanding officer. Mandela, seeing an increase in the physical and mental abuse of prisoners, complained to visiting judges, who had Badenhorst reassigned. He was replaced by Commander Willie Willemse, who developed a co-operative relationship with Mandela and was keen to improve prison standards. The inside of Mandela's prison cell as it was when he was imprisoned in 1964 and his open cell window facing the prison yard on Robben Island, now a national and World Heritage Site. Mandela's cell later contained more furniture, including a bed from around 1973. By 1975, Mandela had become a Class A prisoner, allowing greater numbers of visits and letters; he corresponded with anti-apartheid activists like Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Desmond Tutu. That year, he began his autobiography, which was smuggled to London, but remained unpublished at the time; prison authorities discovered several pages, and his study privileges were revoked for four years. Instead, he devoted his spare time to gardening and reading until he resumed his LLB degree studies in 1980. By the late 1960s, Mandela's fame had been eclipsed by Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). Seeing the ANC as ineffectual, the BCM called for militant action, but following the Soweto uprising of 1976, many BCM activists were imprisoned on Robben Island. Mandela tried to build a relationship with these young radicals, although he was critical of their racialism and contempt for white anti-apartheid activists. Renewed international interest in his plight came in July 1978, when he celebrated his 60th birthday. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in Lesotho, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in India in 1979, and the Freedom of the City of Glasgow, Scotland in 1981. In March 1980, the slogan "Free Mandela!" was developed by journalist Percy Qoboza, sparking an international campaign that led the UN Security Council to call for his release. Despite increasing foreign pressure, the government refused, relying on its Cold War allies US President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; both considered Mandela's ANC a terrorist organisation sympathetic to communism, and supported its suppression.
Pollsmoor Prison: 1982–88 In April 1982, Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Tokai, Cape Town, along with senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Raymond Mhlaba; they believed that they were being isolated to remove their influence on younger activists at Robben Island. Conditions at Pollsmoor were better than at Robben Island, although Mandela missed the camaraderie and scenery of the island. Getting on well with Pollsmoor's commanding officer, Brigadier Munro, Mandela was permitted to create a roof garden; he also read voraciously and corresponded widely, now permitted 52 letters a year. He was appointed patron of the multi-racial United Democratic Front (UDF), founded to combat reforms implemented by South African President P. W. Botha. Botha's National Party government had permitted Coloured and Indian citizens to vote for their own parliaments, which had control over education, health, and housing, but black Africans were excluded from the system; like Mandela, the UDF saw this as an attempt to divide the anti-apartheid movement on racial lines. Violence across the country escalated, with many fearing civil war. Under pressure from an international lobby, multinational banks stopped investing in South Africa, resulting in economic stagnation. Numerous banks and Thatcher asked Botha to release Mandela then at the height of his international fame to defuse the volatile situation. Although considering Mandela a dangerous "arch-Marxist", in February 1985 Botha offered him a release from prison if he "unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon". Mandela spurned the offer, releasing a statement through his daughter Zindzi stating, "What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people [ANC] remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts."
In 1985, Mandela underwent surgery on an enlarged prostate gland, before being given new solitary quarters on the ground floor. He was met by "seven eminent persons", an international delegation sent to negotiate a settlement, but Botha's government refused to co-operate, in June calling a state of emergency and initiating a police crackdown on unrest. The anti-apartheid resistance fought back, with the ANC committing 231 attacks in 1986 and 235 in 1987. The violence escalated as the government used the army and police to combat the resistance, and provided covert support for vigilante groups and the Zulu nationalist movement Inkatha, which was involved in an increasingly violent struggle with the ANC. Mandela requested talks with Botha but was denied, instead secretly meeting with Minister of Justice Kobie Coetsee in 1987, and having a further 11 meetings over the next three years. Coetsee organised negotiations between Mandela and a team of four government figures starting in May 1988; the team agreed to the release of political prisoners and the legalisation of the ANC on the condition that they permanently renounce violence, break links with the Communist Party, and not insist on majority rule. Mandela rejected these conditions, insisting that the ANC would only end its armed activities when the government renounced violence. Mandela's 70th birthday in July 1988 attracted international attention, including a tribute concert at London's Wembley Stadium that was televised and watched by an estimated 200 million viewers. Although presented globally as a heroic figure, he faced personal problems when ANC leaders informed him that Winnie had set herself up as head of a criminal gang, the "Mandela United Football Club", who had been responsible for torturing and killing opponents including children in Soweto. Though some encouraged him to divorce her, he decided to remain loyal until she was found guilty by trial.
Victor Verster Prison and release: 1988–90 Recovering from tuberculosis exacerbated by the dank conditions in his cell, in December 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. He was housed in the relative comfort of a warder's house with a personal cook, and used the time to complete his LLB degree. While there, he was permitted many visitors and organised secret communications with exiled ANC leader Oliver Tambo. In 1989, Botha suffered a stroke, retaining the state presidency but stepping down as leader of the National Party, to be replaced by F. W. de Klerk. In a surprise move, Botha invited Mandela to a meeting over tea in July 1989, an invitation Mandela considered genial. Botha was replaced as state president by de Klerk six weeks later; the new president believed that apartheid was unsustainable and released a number of ANC prisoners. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, de Klerk called his cabinet together to debate legalising the ANC and freeing Mandela. Although some were deeply opposed to his plans, de Klerk met with Mandela in December to discuss the situation, a meeting both men considered friendly, before legalising all formerly banned political parties in February 1990 and announcing Mandela's unconditional release. Shortly thereafter, for the first time in 20 years, photographs of Mandela were allowed to be published in South Africa. Leaving Victor Verster Prison on 11 February, Mandela held Winnie's hand in front of amassed crowds and the press; the event was broadcast live across the world. Driven to Cape Town's City Hall through crowds, he gave a speech declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority, but made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not over, and would continue as "a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid". He expressed hope that the government would agree to negotiations, so that "there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle", and insisted that his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in national and local elections. Staying at the home of Desmond Tutu, in the following days Mandela met with friends, activists, and press, giving a speech to an estimated 100,000 people at Johannesburg's Soccer City.
Freedom Mandela was released from jail on Sunday, 11 February 1990. The first images of the president-to-be walking out of prison were relayed live via satellite to ecstatic audiences across the globe. Mandela led the ANC in negotiations with the South African government which culminated in the adoption of the interim constitution in November 1993. In 1994 the ANC won the country's first multiracial elections with an overwhelming majority. Mandela's inauguration as president brought together the largest number of heads of state since the funeral of former US President John Kennedy in 1963. On 18 July 1998 Mandela married Graēa Machel, the widow of former Mozambican president Samora Machel. After handing over the reigns of the presidency to Thabo Mbeki in 1999, Mandela played a key role as middleman in crisis-hit areas such as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides campaigning globally for peace, Mandela focused his still prodigious energies on empowering disadvantaged children and fighting against HIV/Aids. He gave his prison number 46664 to a global campaign to raise awareness about the disease.
Retirement and legacy In June 2004, Mandela officially retired from public life. His parting gift a R1-billion endowment to South Africa, to be raised by the three charitable organisations that bear his name: The Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Nelson Mandela Rhodes Foundation. In 2007, Mandela, together with Machel and Desmond Tutu, convened a group of world leaders. The Elders to contribute their wisdom and independent leadership to global problems and to ease human suffering. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela's birthday, 18 July, as Nelson Mandela International Day, marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement.
Mandela has become a symbol of what one can achieve with true dedication to a cause. The impression Mandela made on the world was not only due to the cause he was fighting for, but also because of the way he handled the consequences that came with the struggle. Even during his overall 27 years in prison, he maintained his poise and did not turn bitter. He was offered conditional release multiple times, but stayed true to his beliefs. When he was finally released under internal and international pressure in 1990, the end of apartheid subsequently followed. And even after Mandela was elected as president of South Africa in 1994, he maintained a course that fostered reconciliation between different ethnic groups in the country rather than promoting revenge for all the years of oppression. He retired after one term in office, but remained politically active and engaged in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Why is Nelson Mandela Relevant? Over the years, the ANC may have lost some support amongst South Africans but “the father of the nation” never did. In all the years since he left office, Mandela remained one of the most well-known and beloved public figures in South Africa and beyond. When news of his death reached the public, it spread like wildfire. The world collectively mourned and heads of states across the globe condoled. Meanwhile, South Africans gathered in front of Mandela’s house to express their grief over the loss of the country’s “greatest son,” as incumbent President Jacob Zuma had called him. It now becomes clear that Mandela was more to South Africa and the world than just a former president. He has become a symbol of what one can achieve with true dedication to a cause, and a moral authority whose name inevitably stands tall alongside other freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Without Mandela, South Africa will surely be a different country. However, his role in shaping the nation and the impression he made on the world will never be forgotten.
Reception and legacy By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both "the father of the nation" and "the founding father of democracy". Outside of South Africa, he was a "global icon", with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as "one of the most revered figures of our time". One biographer considered him "a modern democratic hero", while his popularity had resulted in a cult of personality building up around him. Some have portrayed Mandela in messianic terms, in contrast to his own statement that "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances." He is often cited alongside Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century's exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders. Boehmer described him as "a totem of the totemic values of our age: toleration and liberal democracy" and "a universal symbol of social justice". Mandela's international fame had emerged during his incarceration in the 1980s, when he became the world's most famous prisoner, a symbol of the anti-apartheid cause, and an icon for millions who embraced the ideal of human equality. In 1986, Mandela's biographer characterised him as "the embodiment of the struggle for liberation" in South Africa. Meredith stated that in becoming "a potent symbol of resistance" to apartheid during the 1980s, he had gained "mythical status" internationally. Sampson commented that even during his life, this myth had become "so powerful that it blurs the realities", converting Mandela into "a secular saint".
Within a decade of the end of his Presidency, Mandela's era was being widely thought of as "a golden age of hope and harmony", with much nostalgia being expressed for it. His name was often invoked by those criticising his successors like Mbeki and Zuma. Across the world, Mandela earned international acclaim for his activism in overcoming apartheid and fostering racial reconciliation, coming to be viewed as "a moral authority" with a great "concern for truth". Mandela's iconic status has been blamed for concealing the complexities of his life. Mandela generated controversy throughout his career as an activist and politician, having detractors on both the radical left and right. During the 1980s, Mandela was widely labelled a terrorist by prominent political figures in the Western world for his embrace of political violence. According to Thatcher, for instance, the ANC was "a typical terrorist organisation". On the left, some voices in the ANC among them Frank B. Wilderson III accused him of selling out for agreeing to enter negotiations with the apartheid government and for not implementing the reforms of the Freedom Charter during his Presidency. Concerns were raised that the personal respect and authority he accrued were in contrast to the ideals of democracy that he promoted, and that he placed his own status and celebrity above the transformation of his country. His government would be criticised for its failure to deal with both the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the high levels of poverty in South Africa. Mandela was also criticised for his friendship with political leaders such as Castro, Gaddafi, and Suharto deemed dictators by critics as well as his refusal to condemn their governments' human rights violations.
Mandela's legacy lives on in each of us Nelson Mandela's advocacy of peace, human rights and reconciliation permeates throughout the world. His ideals live on in the good deeds of ordinary people across the planet. As Mandela said: "It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it." This advice has left a lasting impact. His memory, his work, and his beliefs live on in the hearts and minds of South Africans and the global community, in people playing their part to improve the state of the world. Mandela strove to build a better society. The resolution recognised his "values and dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities", according to the UN website. Mandela Day acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said international the theme behind the day was "Take Action, Inspire Change", which highlighted the importance of working together to build a peaceful, sustainable and equitable world. In the country, July is also known has Mandela Month. Areas flagged for improvement are education and literacy, food security, shelter and infrastructure, and the environment.
Seven ways Mandela impacted the global world:
Forsaking bloodshed The renunciation of violence was one of the defining moments of the political process, and earned Mandela and de Klerk the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
Forging a political path The transition formally turned South Africa into a democracy, bringing in one of the world's most progressive constitutions and allowing blacks not only into polling booths, but also into the corridors of power. In doing so, South Africa also lost its global pariah status. Apartheid had been punished by sanctions including a trade embargo and a ban on direct flights to dozens of countries, like the United States.
A global player In his inauguration speech in 1994, Mandela heralded the country’s re-entry onto the world stage, saying it should become “a rainbow nation” that would never again be seen as “the skunk of the world.” He said: “We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
Peace and forgiveness Mandela’s biggest influence on the new South Africa was his personal determination that anger over the crimes of the past, including his 27 years as a political prisoner, should not motivate future laws and actions. Key to this was his 1995 establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated historic human rights violations and gave vent to grievances.
A cultural power That same year, South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup – the first event of its kind to be held there since the end of the apartheid-era sporting boycott. Along with cricket, rugby was a game played and enjoyed almost exclusively by whites, making the event tough for Mandela’s fledgling democratic government to "sell" to a wider population. Despite resistance on both sides, Mandela swung the rainbow nation behind both the team the Springboks – and the tournament, which South Africa won. That achievement, documented in the 2009 film “Invictus” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, illustrated the extent of South Africa’s rehabilitation and also set the country back on the path of sporting success.
Orders, decorations, and monuments Over the course of his life, Mandela was given over 250 awards, accolades, prizes, honorary degrees and citizenships in recognition of his political achievements. Among the awards that Mandela received were the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize, and the Libyan Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. In 1990, India awarded him the Bharat Ratna, and in 1992 Pakistan have him their Nishan-e-Pakistan. The same year, he was awarded the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey; he at first refused the award, citing human rights violations committed by Turkey at the time, but later accepted the award in 1999. He was appointed to the Order of Canada, and was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as a Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and granted him membership in the Order of Merit.
In 2004, Johannesburg granted Mandela the Freedom of the City, and in 2008 a Mandela statue was unveiled at the spot where Mandela was released from prison. On the Day of Reconciliation 2013, a bronze statue of Mandela was unveiled at Pretoria's Union Buildings. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela's birthday, 18 July, as "Mandela Day", marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared 18 July, Mandela's birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day. The purpose of the declaration was to "honour the long history of Mandela's leading role in the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa".
Biographies and popular media The first biography of Mandela was authored by Mary Benson, based on brief interviews with him that she had conducted in the 1960s. Two authorised biographies were later produced by friends of Mandela. The first was Fatima Meer's Higher Than Hope, which was heavily influenced by Winnie and thus placed great emphasis on Mandela's family. The second was Anthony Sampson's Mandela, published in 1999. Other biographies included Martin Meredith's Mandela, first published in 1997, and Tom Lodge's Mandela, brought out in 2006. Since the late 1980s, Mandela's image began to appear on a proliferation of items, among them "photographs, paintings, drawings, statues, public murals, buttons, t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and more", items that have been characterised as "Mandela kitsch". Following his death, there appeared many internet memes featuring images of Mandela with his inspirational quotes superimposed onto them. Mandela has also been depicted in cinema on multiple occasions. Some of these, such as the 2013 feature film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the 1996 documentary Mandela, have focused on covering his long life, whereas others, such as the 2009 feature film Invictus and the 2010 documentary. The 16th Man, have focused on specific events in his life. It has been argued that in Invictus and other films, "the American film industry" has played a significant part in "the crafting of Mandela's global image".
Conclusion One can ask what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves and in him we saw so much of ourselves. Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together and it is together that we will bid him farewell." Barack Obama, USA's first black president also praised Mandela.