Nelson Mandela was born in 18 July 1918 in Transkei of South Africa. His father was a leader of local Tembu tribe. Highly interested in education from childhood, Mandela completed his higher studies from University of Fort Hare and University of Witwatersrand. As a bright student he acquired his law degree in 1942.
During his university days, Nelson Mandela started becoming aware about the racial behavior of the then white-majority apartheid government. Attending and delivering speeches in programs and seminars strengthened his ideological base. After joining in African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, he became involved in national level politics.
For being one of the only few highly educated members inside the center of ANC, Mandela soon become an important figure in the party. Moreover, as a lawyer, he had to take care the legal procedures against the repression of the government. This made him more influential in ANC.
In 1956, Nelson Mandela was arrested along with some colleagues on charge of treason. After long 5 years of trial, prosecution failed to prove the charge. Mandela was released in 1961. By then, ANC was banned by the government. Mandela proposed for an armed resistance against the government forces. Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear if the Nation), armed wing of ANC was formatted. It’s target was to fight the government forces in guerrilla form. Being trained in neighboring countries, soon they and their sudden attacks on government establishments became headache for the authority.
In 1963, Nelson Mandela was again arrested. Learning from the previous failure, this time government brought charge of ‘conspiring to illegally overthrow the government’. The trail got immense global attention. The racial behavior of the apartheid regime became an discussing agenda among international communities. As feared by many supporters, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to death, which later decreased to life imprisonment. At the ending of the trial, Nelson Mandela commented in a long speech, South Africa is of all who live in South Africa, not of only a group. He also expressed his commitment for full democracy in his country.
With the last apartheid president F. W. de Klerk
Mandela was kept in Robben Island Prison in Cape Town. The atmosphere inside was horrible. But Mandela used to adopt there. He continued his studying, taking part in every day’s physical exercises, leading disciplined life. These attracted and inspired many prisoners. Mandela even made friendship with some of the white guards which was quite surprising even for his inmates.
Despite being imprisoned, Nelson Mandela acquired vast knowledge about happenings in outside world. However, outside the prison wall, he was already becoming the most popular black leader in South Africa and the principle figure of anti-apartheid movement. Demand for his release started growing louder worldwide. Many countries imposed economical sanctions against South Africa. Infront of international pressure, apartheid government started negotiating with ANC and it’s imprisoned leader Mandela. Keeping his ideology at the top, Mandela refused many proposals of ‘conditional’ release.
Atlast government had to bow head. On 19 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was set to freed. A new dawn appeared in South Africa. Following Mandela’s release, the country soon adapted many reforms, especially democratic. In April 1994, in the first ‘free for all’ general election in the country, ANC won majority grabbing 65% of the total votes. Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.
After gaining the power, Mandela set an extraordinary example of mercy. Personally forgave everyone responsible for ruining three decades of his life. Though formally created a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Committee’ led by Desmond Tutu to find out the crimes done by the apartheid government, he walked and worked with everyone, black and white, during his period.
After successfully ruling South Africa for 5 years, Mandela decided to step down for his deteriorating health conditions. Handing over the power to his successor Thabo Mbeki, he retired in 1999. later years he became less public. Still was seen raising voice in anti-HIV movements or against Iraq War.
Nelson Mandela spent his last days with his beloved family. He married thrice, had 6 children and 17 grand-children. After suffering a long time from various illness, Nelson Mandela died on 5 December 2013. The world lost one of it’s best son forever.