The word “hero” is thrown about freely these days, but if there is one person who has truly earned the title it is Nelson Mandela. The remarkable man who carved his way into the history books by saving the world and destroying apartheid has passed away at the age of 95, after a full life of proving that some people in the world are inherently great.
Apartheid, which literally translates to “apartness”, was a government system in South Africa which focussed on racial segregation, from 1948 until 1994. The minority white population controlled the whole country, and anyone who stepped against them was imprisoned for treason.
Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress (ANC), who wanted freedom and equality for everyone, which was against apartheid law. After a non-violent approach proved to resolve nothing, Mandela and the ANC planned to bomb some empty buildings – he still didn’t want to hurt anyone so ensured there was no one inside first. He got caught and classed as a terrorist committing treason by the South African government. He was sent to prison on Robben Island, along with some other members of his group, where he would spend the next 27 years of life.
In 1990, Mr Mandela was released from prison after his sentence brought enough publicity to the anti-apartheid cause that other countries pressured the South African government. Mandela continued his campaign against segregation and brokered a deal to end the apartheid with then-president FW de Klerk, leading them to share a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. For the first time, all races were allowed to vote in the 1994 elections, where Mandela was running for the presidency.
The ANC was victorious is those elections, making Nelson Mandela the first black and post-apartheid president of South Africa on April 26, 1994. The minority population were no longer in control, the apartheid was over. Mandela’s influence is thought to encouraged people and resolved issues all over the world.
Jacob Zuma, the current South African President, announced Mr Mandela’s passing in a statement on national television. “This is the moment of our deepest sorrow,” he said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son.”
Ahmed Kathrada, a great friend of Mr Mandela who shared his prison sentence with him, referred to Mr Mandela as his older brother whom he had known for 67 years. Although he knew that Mandela’s passing was inevitable at some point, he didn’t think he would be witness to it. “I had the enviable privilege of being alive, and walking the Earth, with you through the bad times and the good,” he said.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest… But I can rest for only a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my walk is not yet ended.” Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013.