The Man. The cause. The Legend.
On the 5th of December 2013, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon died aged 95.
This anti-apartheid revolutionary, turned philanthropist and politician, helped a divided and isolated South Africa find its footing in the world and forge some degree of unity within.
Unlike other leaders, Mandela did not aim to punish, but rather to reconcile. He never looked for enemies, instead he searched for allies in his attempt to dismantle the legacy of apartheid, working against institutionalised racism, to alleviate poverty and inequality and to forge a basis for racial reconciliation in South Africa.
Having served twenty-seven years in prison for his political commitments and relentless struggle against the apartheid government, he was granted release in 1990 as a result of international lobbying for his freedom as well as due to internal civil strife. Four years later he led the ANC to victory and rather than relishing in their newfound power, he formed a Government of National Unity to defuse racial tension.
The Truth Reconciliation Commission created to investigate human rights abuses during apartheid was based on the principle of restorative justice, with perpetrators of violence and abuse permitted to ask for amnesty for their actions from both civil and criminal prosecution.
He served for one term only and declined to run for a second, dedicating the rest of his life to charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
To South Africans he is known as Madiba or Tata: “the father of the nation.” To the rest of the world he is the man who personifies the selfless struggle for human dignity, equality and freedom.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said “a great light has gone out in the world”.
Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, ordered for the
White House flag be flown at half-mast.
Nelson Mandela. The man who lived, the man who inspired, and whose legacy will continue to inspire for all generations to come.