“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
Surely, a good beginning makes a good end. Nelson Mandela will be remembered as one of the great statespersons of Africa. Nelson Mandela was named Rolihlahla Dalibhunga, the son of the Thembu tribal chieftain, on 18th July 1918, in a small village in the Transkei province in South Africa. Mandela later set out to bring fairness for all people in his country South Africa. He was able to achieve this after the long and hard struggle he passed through.
Nelson Mandela as he grew up saw how unfairly black people in his country were treated. They had to carry passes or cards to show that they had permission to move from one place to another. The black people could neither live in the same places nor travel on the same buses as the white people. They were not even allowed to elect their own people into the government. In addition, their children could not go to the schools where the children of white people went. This was called apartheid and it had no future as a system in South Africa.
The destruction caused by apartheid on the sub-continent is in calculable. The family life of millions of people has been shattered. This annoyed Mandela and he fought for fairness.
Mandela was a lawyer in his life; many times he defended his people in court. He often said, “I do not hate white people. I do not fight them but I fight the bad laws they make which are unfair to my people.” He was accused of planning to overthrow the government of South Africa. Nelson Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. When he was in prison he was the most respected prisoner in the world. Then because of his famous name,, people in South Africa and from all over the world demanded his release. They forced the South Africa government to release Mandela in 1990 after he had been in prison for 27 years.
Four years after he was released from prison, in 1994 the ANC party won 252 of the 400 seats in the country’s first free elections with Nelson Mandela elected South African president on 10 May 1994. He tried to make South Africa a place where all people could live together in peace and where everyone would be treated equally. In his first speech, Nelson Mandela said, “Negotiations cannot take place above the head or behind the backs of our people.” He also believed the future of the country could only be determined by a body which was democratically elected. The rules and laws of the country made him follow this strictly, and also guided the citizens to follow them.
When he was given the power in his leadership, he did not allow fear to stand in his way. The sight of freedom looming on the horizon encouraged his efforts. Also through disciplined mass action his victory was assured. He did not work alone. As they say, “Unity is strength.” He called on white compatriots to join him in the shaping of a new South Africa, and in order to develop a new South African constitution. The police promised to investigate the violence of citizens who were not following the laws. In his goals, he was a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress. He was therefore in full agreement with all of its objectives, strategies and tactics. At age 76, the “walk to freedom” had taken an entire lifetime.
Mandela’s struggle for peace has been recognized all over the world. In 1993, he was jointly awarded the most important prize for peace, the Nobel Peace Prize. It was in recognition of his struggle to end apartheid and to lay the foundation for a new democracy in South Africa. In 1995, Nelson Mandela started the Children’s Fund to help educate and improve the lives of young people from poor families. The fund aims at changing the way the society treats children and young people so as to improve their lives.
Mandela decided not to seek a second term as president, but he continued to help other countries to achieve peace. He also said, “I have fought against black domination and I have fought against white 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.”
This shows that Mandela was a leader who was determined in everything. Mandela died on 5th December 2013.
Nelson Mandela fulfilled every expectation in his role as a leader of the great march to freedom. Surely great things are done when men and mountain meet. Nelson Mandela was a wise man who spoke because he had something to say. The character shown by Nelson Mandela to the people of South Africa, in helping their country to become peace shows that Nelson Mandela was a nice leader who loved the white people, the black people, who was ready to speak against any form of unfairness in other countries and also ready to help more people after he was given power.