Today I lost a hero. Today we lost a hero. Today the world lost a hero. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into a South Africa chained by the links of Colonialism, Imperialism, and Racism. He the son of a King andborn in a village of Mvezo in South Africa’s Cape Province. Mandela was an integral part in the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was the racial segregation which was forced on the South African people from 1948 until 1994 by the National Party.
Mandela used radical activism to combat Apartheid in Africa. His fight for racial equality began in the 1950s and didn’t come into fruition until 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected President in the first multi-racial election South Africa had ever seen. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
During this fight for equality, Mandela was arrested for treason and imprisoned from 1962 until 1990. During his imprisonment, he became the face of Anti-Apartheid activism and managed to help dismantle the oppressive government set upon South Africa by the National Party. He gave South Africa the freedom she so desperately needed.
But he didn’t stop there. Mandela created a committee solely devoted to investigating human rights violations made by both pro and anti-Apartheid groups. He ensured that violence against White South Africans was discouraged and worked towards improving race relations. After leaving office, he focused on bringing attention to the AIDs epidemic in South Africa. The disease would later claim his son Makgatho.
As I said, today I lost a hero. Nelson Mandela was a beacon of light in a world shrouded in the shadows of racism, oppression, and misery. He suffered for his beliefs and it is through that suffering that he propelled South Africa into a new age of Freedom and Democracy.
As someone who identifies as an Activist, I take a few lessons from Mandela’s life. The first, at the bleakest of times the strong will survive. Throughout Mandela’s imprisonment he held on to his resolve. The second, there is strength in numbers. As activists we often try to tackle the world by ourselves. Mandela always had allies and actively sought out help. Finally, never stoop as low as your oppressor. After bringing non-whites in South Africa out of Apartheid and into freedom, he didn’t seek to punish white South Africans. He also didn’t condone violence committed by non-whites against white South Africans.
I sit in mourning and write this with a heavy heart but I leave you with this: “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.”- Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
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