Many people have died this century, but few people can be compared to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s popularity due to his achievements. The first African name of Rolihlahla was associated with a trouble maker. We can take a close look in this post about what made some people refer to him as an icon of the 21st century. His nicknames were Madiba and Dalibunga especially in South Africa where he was born. Elsewhere, many people were just comfortable talking about him or referring to him as Mandela. His popularity rose because of not just being a revolutionist in the political arena, but he was also a philanthropist. After reading his biography in LONG WALK TO FREEDOM one can understand his passion to free all South Africans better.
Nelson Mandela was born in the Madiba clan on July 18th
1918 in the Cape Province of South Africa. He was a Xhosa by tribe and belonged to a royal family with his father being the Chief of the Madiba Clan. His mother was Nosekeni Fanny, the third wife of his father’s four wives. His father’s full names were Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa Mandela. As a local chief, he was also appointed as a counsellor to the white magistrate. He was dismissed for corruption, but his son, Mandela, was not told the truth about it.
LIFE IN A TYPICAL RURAL SETUP
Before his father’s death, Nosekeni Fanny took her son to live in her paternal father’s village called Qunu, a more remote area than Nelson had known. Here, there were no cars to be seen let alone wide roads leading to any big town. Nelson grew up with his two sisters but spent time looking after cattle and playing with boys outside his mother’s kraal.
LIFE AT THE KING’S PALACE
Nelson’s father joined his family at Qunu Village. It did not take long before his father died of a lung-related disease. It is not clear whether Gadla had instructed his wife to take Nelson to the big palace where the current chief, Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, was to be the guardian to Nelson.
EXPOSURE TO MISSIONARY EDUCATION
The palace provided new experiences to Nelson. Instead of the traditional way of learning everything practically by herding cattle and folk tales at night, Nelson started grasping the new atmosphere of education under the Methodist Church. Attending school and Church on Sundays had great impact on his later life. It is here that the name NELSON was handed out to him by his primary school female teacher. It was common practice that time for teachers to give English names to their pupils for the better pronunciation of names.
HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION
Through plain hard work, Nelson qualified to attend a Methodist’s administered secondary school called the Clarkebury Boarding Institute. It was here that he realized he was good at track events as well as a good boxer. However, he did not allow these activities to hinder his academic progress and so in 1939 he qualified to be enrolled at University of Fort Hare, the most prestigious university admitting elite black students from all over Africa. He was elected to the Student Representative Council not knowing that there were much more important elections for him in life in which he would emerge victoriously.
THE LAW COURSE
Influenced by stories of peace before the arrival of white men told by visitors to the palace, Nelson thought LAW would be a good course to pursue at the university. The course would lead him to acquiring one of the most prestigious jobs held by black men in the midst of the Apartheid political system at that time. Having determined what course to pursue, he advanced himself in this field at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of South Africa.
EMPLOYMENT AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM
His dream of working as a guard or doing clerical work in order to complete his degree through correspondence was fulfilled in Johannesburg. After his completion of studies, he became a political activist and joined the African National Congress in 1942. As a leader who had been inspired by Mahatma Ghandi’s political system of non-violent, he worked with his colleagues such as Walter Sisulu, Thabo Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, Denis Goldberg and another anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada who was popularly known as Kathy.
LIFE IN PRISON
In 1961, Nelson Mandela co-founded “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (Spear of the Nation) which became an armed wing of the African National Congress. Because of the new stance taken to bring about political change by organizing demonstrations and other political activities to fight Apartheid, Nelson Mandela was thrown into prison in 1962.
When he was arrested for the second time in 1964, he was given the prison number 46664 on Robben Island. This number was given as a name to a global non-profit organization that spearheaded HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign; as a reminder to Mandela’s sacrifices towards the fight against apartheid.
While in prison, Mandela met Ahmed Kathrada and the two prisoners encouraged each other for the most part of Mandela’s twenty-seven years imprisonment. People supported Nelson Mandela in one way or another. One such true friend was an American called Bob Brown. According to the Washing Post of June 30, 1990, “Brown bought them a van, he says. For the past three years he’s supported the family, including three children and two relatives, to the tune of $75,000 a year, he estimates.”
NELSON MANDELA IS FREED
Demonstrations began in the early 1980’s to have Nelson Mandela freed not only within South Africa, but in other countries as well. Eventually pressure on the Apartheid regime was mounting from many countries and different continents. Frederick De Clerk as the South African president at that time continued to have discussions with Nelson Mandela. After weighing his passion and genuineness for all South Africans to live in harmony, Frederick De Klerk released Nelson Mandela after twenty-seven years of imprisonment.
NELSON MANDELA BECOMES THE FIRST BLACK SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT
When the first free and fair elections were organized in South Africa, Nelson Mandela scooped the presidency as the first black South African President. In the same year in 1993, Nelson Mandela together with Frederick De Klerk was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. During his period as president from 1994 to 1999, Nelson Mandela’s desire was to uplift the standard of living for the black people who had been marginalized for a long time. He achieved quite a lot in this area and people greatly respected him for this and often pronounced him as MADIBA to refer to his clan.
Nelson Mandela brokered many peace deals in countries where there was political instability. Peace and ceasefire agreements were eventually signed out of respect for him. Some of these peace agreements included Burundi.
After retiring from the political scene, Nelson Mandela continued to be influential and would invite important businessmen both from within and outside South Africa to pledge towards the building of schools and health centres in black townships. The residents of such townships were very appreciative of this gesture.
INFLUENCE ON THE SPORTS SCENE
Out of deep respect for Nelson Mandela, the world football governing body, FIFA, granted the privilege to host the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. It was a great success since it was hosted with no incident.
Nelson Mandela was married to Evelyn Ntoko Mase from 1944 to 1958 and gave birth to Madiba Thembi, Maki, Makgatho and Pumla Maki. Winnie Madikizela joined him in marriage from 1958 to 1996 and gave birth to Zindzi and Zenani Dlamini. The third wife was Grace Machel from 1998 to 2013.
DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA
Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday 5th December 2013; may his soul rest in eternal peace. He was given a well-deserving burial service befitting the 21st Century icon he was.
INFLUENCE ON THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY
Barrack Obama (the head of state at the time) and the past United States of American presidents had intimate talks with Nelson Mandela or said something after admiring and encouraging him in his quest to achieve philanthropism. Even after his death in 2013, messages about him come out of the White House. The Washington Post has many pictures about this matter from President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They awarded him in various categories which included bravery and special leadership.
INFLUENTIAL ON THE MEDIA
The journalists could not be left out in following Nelson Mandela’s influence. They kept on quoting whatever he said and would easily publish them. Here are some of these popular quotes and they have been used by journalists to influence thousands of their readers and listeners:
Nelson Mandela quotes
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.”
“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”
“No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”
“Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.”
“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”
Other quotes from Nelson Mandela
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”