Nelson Mandela, “South Africa’s greatest son”, dead at 95
December 5, 2013 Leave a comment
After a battle with prolonged illness, anti-apartheid icon and the father of modern South Africa Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95. The South African leader, President Jacob Zuma, alerted the nation shortly after Mandela’s death in a late-night address. Mandela leaves behind a legacy of overcoming personal struggles and suffering and triumphing over institutionalized racism and political oppression to become the first black president of South Africa.
Mandela, born Rolihlahla Madiba (meaning: troublemaker) on July 18, 1918, was an activist in the African National Congress and fought for the rights of blacks. In 1950 he officially become a member of the ANC’s national executive committee. In 1956 Mandela and other militant ANC leaders were tried for treason. Along with eight other men, he was taken to the Justice of Pretoria in a barred police vehicle. The men were charged with conspiracy, sabotage and sedition.
While he was eventually found not guilty on those charges, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison eight years later on the charge of sabotage. After serving 26 years in Robben Island prison, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster, he was freed from imprisonment by President F.W. De Klerk in February of 1990. President F.W. de Klerk would eventually share the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their actions.
Nelson Mandela became the nation’s first black president in 1994 and served as president of South Africa until 1999. In addition to his fight for civil rights, Mandela also drew attention to the AIDS epidemic, which greatly affected South Africa. His open support for victims of the disease garnered public support, which pressed his successor to adopt policies to fight the diseases.
“I would like to be remembered not as anyone unique or special, but as part of a great team in this country that has struggled for many years, for decades and even centuries,” Mandela said in his last public appearance. “The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”