and his legacy
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.
Last night, while Sinterklaas and his Black Peets were placing gifts in every house in the lowlands, Nelson Mandela died. At the age of 95 he was, without a doubt the most influencial freedom fighter of our time. Despite not being politically active during his imprisonment of 27 years on Robben Island, he taught the South Africans how to deal with their past. But most importantly, he taught them how to look forward and showed to world how politics CAN change the world..
After receiving a primary education at a local mission school, Rolihlahla was sent to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute where he matriculated. At the age of 7, his British teacher gave him the name Nelson. In those days it was healthier having an all British name instead of a name given to you by your clan and parents.
He then enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare for the Bachelor of Arts Degree where he was elected onto the Student's Representative Council. He was suspended from college for joining in a protest boycott. After his suspension, he went to Johannesburg where he completed his BA.
At the height of the Second World War, a small group of young Africans banded together and set themselves the formidable task of transforming the ANC (founded in 1912) into a mass movement. Being backed up by the strength and motivation given to them by the unlettered millions of working people in the towns and countryside, the peasants in the rural areas, and the professionals.
In 1944 a small group of young Africans founded the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). Mandela soon impressed his peers by his disciplined work and consistent effort and was elected to the Secretaryship of the Youth League in 1947.The year before the National Party came to power..
During the whole of the 1950's, Mandela was the victim of various forms of repression. He was banned, arrested, and imprisoned. For much of the latter half of the decade, he was one of the accused in the mammoth Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. It was ruled that the ANC was an illegal party and therefor forbidden party. During this period of restrictions, Mandela wrote the attorneys admission examination and was admitted to the profession.
In 1961 Umkhonto we Sizwe (the military wing of the ANC) was formed, with Mandela as its commander-in-chief. In 1962 Mandela left the country unlawfully and travelled abroad for several months. In Ethiopia he addressed the Conference of the Pan African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa, and was warmly received by senior political leaders in several countries. During this trip Mandela, anticipating an intensification of the armed struggle, began to arrange guerrilla training for members of Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Not long after his return to South Africa, Mandela was arrested and charged with illegal exit from the country, and incitement to strike. Since he considered the prosecution a trial of the aspirations of the African people, Mandela decided to conduct his own defence. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and started his prison years in the notorious Robben Island Prison, a maximum security prison on a small island 7Km off the coast near Cape Town.
I personally remember Mandela being released out of prison in 1990, receiving the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 and being inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa in 1994. Having visited South Africa on our honeymoon, you could feel and hear that this man had given so much to his people and country. We can only guess what is felt in South Africa today. And for that matter in the whole world. Rest in Peace Madiba