Obituary: Nelson Mandela

2013-12-06 01:10
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela guided South Africa from the shackles of apartheid to multi-racial democracy, as an icon of peace and reconciliation who came to embody the struggle for justice around the world.

Imprisoned for nearly three decades for his fight against white minority rule, Mandela emerged determined to use his prestige and charisma to bring down apartheid while avoiding a civil war.

"The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come," Mandela said in his acceptance speech on becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

"We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation."

In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour he shared with FW de Klerk, the white Afrikaner leader who freed him from prison three years earlier and negotiated the end of apartheid.

Mandela went on to play a prominent role on the world stage as an advocate of human dignity in the face of challenges ranging from political repression to Aids.

He formally left public life in June 2004 before his 86th birthday, telling his adoring countrymen: "Don't call me. I'll call you". But he remained one of the world's most revered public figures, combining celebrity sparkle with an unwavering message of freedom, respect and human rights.

Whether defending himself at his own treason trial in 1963 or addressing world leaders years later as a greying elder statesman, he radiated an image of moral rectitude expressed in measured tones, often leavened by a mischievous humour.

"He is at the epicentre of our time, ours in South Africa, and yours, wherever you are," Nadine Gordimer, the South African writer and Nobel Laureate for Literature, once remarked.

Mandela's years behind bars made him the world's most celebrated political prisoner and a leader of mythic stature for millions of black South Africans and other oppressed people far beyond his country's borders.

Charged with capital offences in the 1963 Rivonia Trial, his statement from the dock was his political testimony.

"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," he told the court.

"It is an ideal I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Destined to lead

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918, destined to lead as the son of the chief councillor to the paramount chief of the Thembu people in Transkei.

He chose to devote his life to the fight against white domination. He studied at Fort Hare University, an elite black college, but left in 1940 short of completing his studies and became involved with the African National Congress (ANC), founding its Youth League in 1944 with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu.

Mandela worked as a law clerk then became a lawyer who ran one of the few practices that served blacks.

In 1952 he and others were charged for violating the Suppression of Communism Act but their nine-month sentence was suspended for two years.

Mandela was among the first to advocate armed resistance to apartheid, going underground in 1961 to form the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, or 'Spear of the Nation' in Zulu.

He left South Africa and travelled the continent and Europe, studying guerrilla warfare and building support for the ANC.

After his return in 1962, Mandela was arrested and sentenced to five years for incitement and illegally leaving the country. While serving that sentence, he was charged with sabotage and plotting to overthrow the government along with other anti-apartheid leaders in the Rivonia Trial.

Branded a terrorist by his enemies, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, isolated from millions of his countrymen as they suffered oppression, violence and forced resettlement under the apartheid regime of racial segregation.

He was incarcerated on Robben Island, a penal colony off Cape Town, where he would spend the next 18 years before being moved to mainland prisons.

He was behind bars when an uprising broke out in the huge township of Soweto in 1976 and when others erupted in violence in the 1980s. But when the regime realised it was time to negotiate, it was Mandela to whom it turned.

In his later years in prison, he met President PW Botha and his successor de Klerk.

When he was released on 11 February 1990, walking away from the Victor Verster prison hand-in-hand with his wife Winnie, the event was watched live by television viewers across the world.

"As I finally walked through those gates... I felt even at the age of 71 that my life was beginning anew. My 10 000 days of imprisonment were at last over," Mandela wrote of that day.

Elections and reconciliation

In the next four years, thousands of people died in political violence. Most were blacks killed in fighting between ANC supporters and Zulus loyal to Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party, although right-wing whites also staged violent actions to upset the moves towards democracy.

Mandela prevented a racial explosion after the murder of popular Communist Party leader Chris Hani by a white assassin in 1993, appealing for calm in a national television address. That same year, he and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Talks between the ANC and the government began in 1991, leading to South Africa's first all-race elections on 27 April 1994.

The run-up to the vote was marred by fighting, including gun battles in Johannesburg townships and virtual war in the Zulu stronghold of KwaZulu Natal.

But Mandela campaigned across the country, enthralling adoring crowds of blacks and wooing whites with assurances that there was a place for them in the new South Africa.

The election result was never in doubt and his inauguration in Pretoria on May 10, 1994, was a celebration of a peoples' freedom.

Mandela made reconciliation the theme of his presidency. He took tea with his former jailers and won over many whites when he donned the jersey of South Africa's national rugby team - once a symbol of white supremacy - at the final of the World Cup in 1995 at Johannesburg's Ellis Park stadium.

The hallmark of Mandela's mission was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which investigated apartheid crimes on both sides and tried to heal the wounds. It also provided a model for other countries torn by civil strife.

In 1999, Mandela, often criticised for having a woolly grasp of economics, handed over to younger leaders - a voluntary departure from power cited as an example to long-ruling African leaders.

A restful retirement was not on the cards as Mandela shifted his energies to fighting South Africa's AIDS crisis.

He spoke against the stigma surrounding the infection, while successor Thabo Mbeki was accused of failing to comprehend the extent of the crisis.

The fight became personal in early 2005 when Mandela lost his only surviving son to the disease.

But the stress of his long struggle contributed to the break-up of his marriage to equally fierce anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie.

The country shared the pain of their divorce in 1996 before watching his courtship of Graca Machel, widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel, whom he married on his 80th birthday in 1998.

Friends adored "Madiba", the clan name by which he is known. People lauded his humanity, kindness, attention and dignity.

Unable to shake the habits of prison, Mandela rose daily between 04:00 and 05:00 to exercise and read. He drank little and was a fervent anti-smoker.

An amateur boxer in his younger days, Mandela often said the discipline and tactics drawn from training helped him to endure prison and the political battles after his release.

Rainbow nation

But prison and old age took their toll on his health.

Mandela was treated in the 1980s for tuberculosis and later required an operation to repair damage to his eyes as well as treatment for prostate cancer in 2001. His spirit, however, remained strong.

"If cancer wins I will still be the better winner," he told reporters in September of that year. "When I go to the next world, the first thing I will do is look for an ANC office to renew my membership."

Most South Africans are proud of their post-apartheid multi-racial 'Rainbow Nation'.

But Mandela's legacy of tolerance and reconciliation has been threatened in recent years by squabbling between factions in the ANC and social tensions in a country that, despite its political liberation, still suffers great inequalities.

Mandela's last major appearance on the global stage came in 2010 when he donned a fur cap in the South African winter and rode on a golf cart, waving to an exuberant crowd of 90,000 at the soccer World Cup final, one of the biggest events in the country's post-apartheid history.

"I leave it to the public to decide how they should remember me," he said on South African television before his retirement.

"But I should like to be remembered as an ordinary South African who together with others has made his humble contribution."

- Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

Read more on:    nelson mandela
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
67 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.