He is often referred to as our nation’s Father, and with good reason. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is an international hero who fostered democracy, peace and reconciliation out of a country broken by Apartheid.
With his admittance to a hospital in Pretoria in the early hours of June 8 2013, South African citizens everywhere are paying tribute to his legacy. We take a look at the life of a truly inspirational man.
Madiba: A Nation’s Father
Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 into the Themby royal family. He is often called Madiba, which is his Xhosa clan name. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black President to hold office and the first elected in a democratic, multi-racial election. As the president of the African National Congress (ANC), the political party that fought against apartheid, he led the government in demolishing apartheid and cultivated reconciliation.
Madiba attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he studied law, although he did not complete his degree. Instead, he became involved in anti-apartheid politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. Although he was initially opposed to violent protests, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, a militant division of the AND which lead a bombing campaign against government targets.
He was repeatedly arrested for taking part in activities against the Apartheid government and, on 11 January 1962, left South Africa to travel around Africa and England to gain support for the struggle. During this time he received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. In late 1962, Mandela was arrested and in April 1964 was convicted for acts of sabotage against the government. He was sentenced to life in prison gave his famous ‘Speech from the Dock’ where he stated:
“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. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Madiba was imprisoned for 27 years and spent most of that time in a small cell on Robben Island. He was released in 1990 after an international campaign for his freedom and never took action against his oppressors. Mandela has received international acclaim for his anti-apartheid activities and has received more than 250 awards, including a Nobel Peace Prize.
At Dreams To Reality, we as a volunteer organisation aspire to the same ideals that Nelson Mandela has dedicated his life fighting for. Equality, compassion, respect, and the eradication of poverty are just some of the values that we strive to uphold. As a volunteer in South Africa, you will have a chance to help people in underprivileged communities and to further the dream Mandela had for all South African citizens.
While volunteering you will also some have the opportunity to visit Robben Island during your free time. The small cell where Mandela was imprisoned for 17 years is a reminder of the injustices of apartheid and Mandela’s great spirit and triumph in overcoming these injustices.