Posted By MaiSee Vang
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
– Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was a man of honor who fought for what he believed in. He fought not only for his people, he fought for his nation. A nation he protected and changed through education, equality and democracy. When I first heard of Nelson Mandela, I knew he was famous for something but I didn’t know what. It’s different when you know that someone is great person and knowing how they got there. When I first started my research on him I thought to myself, “Wow, he sure did cause a lot of problems with his government.” Then I saw his true goal of wanting to make his nation a better place for not just his people, but for everyone. That is why I wanted to learn more about him and help celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day!
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Nelson Mandela, birth name of Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18th 1918 in a small village called Mvezo, Transkei. He was the son of Nonqaphi Nosekeni (mother) and Nkosi Mphanyiswa Gadla Mandela (father). It wasn’t until primary school that Mandela’s teacher, Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson because it was easier to remember and pronounce; many children were given Christian names during that time. He had three wives in his lifetime. From 1944 to 1958 he was married to Evlyn Mase, from 1958 to 1996 he was married to Winnie Madkizela, and lastly he married Graca Machel in 1998.
Like many of us it took some time for him to finally finish his degree, but he got his BA in 1943, then in 1989, he obtain his first professional degree in law (LLB) from the University of South Africa. It wasn’t until 1952 when he started to get more involve in political issues. He was elected as the National Volunteer-Chief of the Defiance Campaign. This campaign was a joint program between the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress to go against six unjust laws. He was charged with Suppression of Communism Act along with 19 others for being a part of the campaign. They were sentenced to nine months of hard labor and suspended for two years. Even after this he continued his fight in finding equality for South Africa leading to a few more imprisonment and trials.
One trial that he was most known in was the Rivonia Trial in 1963. He was on trial for sabotage in which he was faced with the death penalty, and coincidentally his speech helped him on this trial.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. 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.”
– Nelson Mandela, Speech from the Dock
It was in 1994 that Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first Democratic President. He served for one term only, but even after his term he continued to strive for democracy, equality, and education. On December 5, 2013 Mandela died due to health issues. Though he is no longer here his freedom fighting legacy lives on, in the hearts of the people he fought for and in those who fought for him.
The biography above was compromised of information from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Interesting facts about Nelson Mandela
- Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s former President before Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
- Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla, meaning trouble maker; he sure did stir up a lot of trouble for his successful cause to end apartheid in South Africa.
- There is a prehistoric woodpecker named after him, the Australopicus nelsonmandelai.
- He was on the US terror watch list until 2008.
- He had a cameo in a Spike Lee film of Malcolm X, as he delivered Malcom X’s famous speech.
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