Nelson Mandela: A True Uniter, In Life and Death

Bringing people around the world together today and for ages to come
Rahman Mohamed

On December 5, former South African President and leader of the end of apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, passed away peacefully at the age of 95.  But he’s one who will be remembered for ages.

Nelson Mandela wasn’t just the first democratically elected President of South Africa, he was the South African who won black South Africans the right to vote.

This was after he spent time in prison.  In 1962, when police uncovered documents in the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC), they found plans for a movement called Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) that he helped found; for that Mandela was charged with sabotage and treason.  During the trial he said

I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society, in which all persons will live together in harmony, and with equal opportunities. It is an idea for which I hope to live and to see, but, my lord, if it need be, it is an idea for which I am prepared to die.

He still received a life sentence and the (now famous) prison number 46664 when he moved to Robben Island prison for 18 years.  In 1982 Mandela and other imprisoned ANC leaders were moved to Pollsmoor prison outside of Capetown; in 1988 he was hospitalized for tuberculosis but returned to prison after recovery.

In 1989 F. W. de Klerk became president of South Africa; on Feb 11, 1990 Mandela was released from prison, leapt back into the anti-apartheid movement at the age of 71 and took over the leadership of the legal ANC.

In 1993, Mandela was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk for coming to an agreement to end apartheid.  1994 was the election year.  Mandela voted for the first time, the ANC received 63% of the vote, and South Africa had a new president.

After winning, instead of holding a grudge or calling for retaliation against oppressors, he “danced and waved to the crowd. He smiled the open, generous smile of a man who had lived to see his dream”, uniting a nation.

Nelson Mandela once said “Sport has the power to change the world…It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”  In 2010 the World Cup was brought to South Africa, uniting the world, under a stadium, and a country once divided now cheering a team at home.

Even in death, Mandela has left is mark of unity; Today CNN reported that when President Barack Obama – his first political campaign, the movement against apartheid – heard about Mandela’s death, he President Barack Obama “ordered American flags to be lowered immediately to half-staff until Monday in tribute to Mandela, a rare honor for a foreign leader

Books of Condolence and tributes to Mandela can be found around Canada.  There was a special assembly today at Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto.

And Twitter’s abuzz with

#Mandela from around the world and more

His story will be remembered and will bring the world together


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