This day marks the ninth anniversary of the passing of global icon who in his lifetime, selflessly dedicated himself to the fight for the liberation of enslaved people.
He was South Africa’s first Black president, anti-Apartheid icon and Nobel Prize winner. People widely regard Mandela as one of the most influential civil rights figures of all time. His work advocating for social justice, becoming the first Black president of South Africa and contributing his philosophy to the world, made Mandela one of the most prominent figures of the 20th century.
He is considered the father of Modern South Africa. He was instrumental in tearing down the oppressive government and installing democracy. His vision during the apartheid era was for the eradication of racism and for the establishment of a constitutional democracy.
He envisioned a South Africa in which all its citizens had equal rights and where every adult would have the right to vote for the government of his or her choice. On his ninth death anniversary.
Here are some facts about Mandela’s life, career and the impact that he continues to have upon millions.
Nelson is not his real name. Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla. In his Xhosa tribe, the name means pulling the branch of a tree or troublemaker. During his time in primary school, his instructor (Mrs Mdingane) gave him the name Nelson to follow the custom that students in schools should receive Christian names.
In the 1950s, he was elected the leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement. When the government prohibited the ANC for racial reasons, Mandela organised a secret military movement. He had previously been involved in peaceful protests but when they were met with violence from the government he went on to support an armed movement.
Founded and ran the only Black law firm in 1953
Mandela ran the only Black law firm in 1953. Mandela and fellow ANC member Oliver Tambo founded the country’s first Black law firm, Mandela & Tambo, which defended the people affected by apartheid laws. His practice primarily worked in challenging apartheid laws, including South Africa’s “pass laws”, which required non-white citizens to carry documents authorising their presence in “restricted” areas.
Master of disguise
Mandela was a master of disguise. During the struggle against apartheid, Mandela found various ways to disguise himself against the South African authorities. One of his many disguises was as a black chauffeur. After the press caught him, the media began to dub Mandela as The Black Pimpernel.
Only black student on campus
When Nelson Mandela studied law at the University of the Witwatersrand, he was the only black African student on the campus. Mandela endured a lot of racism during his time in the university. He eventually cultivated a good relationship with liberal and communist Jewish, Indian and European students.
Studied law while being imprisoned
Before Mandela was imprisoned, he had begun to study law at the University of Witwatersrand through correspondence. Mandela enrolled in the University of London’. In 2009, the United Nations proclaimed Mandela’s birthday (July 18) to be Nelson Mandela International Day. The asks people to spend 67 minutes doing something good for others, which represents the 67 years he spent working toward change.
He loved sports and even used them as part of his activism. He believed that sport “has the power to change the world … it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers”. Besides politics, Mandela’s other passion was boxing. “I did not like the violence of boxing. I was more interested in the science of it - how you move your body to protect yourself, how you use a plan to attack and retreat, and how you pace yourself through a fight,” he says in his biography.
It was in prison from 1962 to 1990 where Mandela wrote a secret autobiography. The contents of his prison writings were later published in 1994 as a book entitled Long Walk to Freedom.
He had a part in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic “Malcolm X”. At the very end of the movie, he plays a teacher reciting Malcolm X’s famous speech to a room full of Soweto school kids. But the pacifist Mandela wouldn’t say “by any means necessary”. So Lee cut back to footage of Malcolm X to close the film.
Fought against HIV/AIDS
He advocated for HIV/AIDS after one of his sons passed away from AIDS-related illness. Mandela’s public announcement of his son’s condition helped break the stigma of the disease in South Africa: “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like tuberculosis, like cancer, is always to come out."
Source: Times of India