The Nelson Mandela Legacy (1918-2013)
Born in 1918, in a small village in South Africa named Mvezo, Nelson RolihlahlaMandela was one of the more prominent figures on the international scene. Among his many accomplishments, it was Mandela’s amazing courage and heroism in helping to abolish the Apartheid that many will remember him for. Being one of the darkest periods in the history of South Africa, the institutionalized racism and enforced poverty of the Apartheid is widely known. Of course, Mr. Mandela was instrumental in seeing the controlling regime was eventually overthrown, paving the way for new reforms, for which he paid a heavy personal price.
All in all, it would seem that Nelson Mandela’s legacy is one of pushing for racial equality, across all international boundaries. Earlier on, he studied law at the University of Witwatersrand, after completing a program at Fort Hare University. Right from the start, his interests lie in anti-colonialist politics, his rise to power came on the heels of joining the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign. Naturally, due to his proficiency as a lawyer he often contested what he saw as the corrupt actions of despotic governments, which let to repeated arrests.
During the early part of his political life, all of his actions and affiliations were strictly devoted toward what one might call “passive” or “peaceful” movements to bring about positive change. Of course all this changed in 1961 when he paired up with the South African Communist Party as well as co-founding another militant group (Umkhontowe Sizwe) in order to forcibly alter the Apartheid government. This led to him being sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. After protests and civil unrest erupted on an international scale, Mandela was finally released in 1991, after serving 27 years.
Following that, Nelson was elected President of the African National Congress, making him the first black individual to hold the post. Immediately after he ascended to office, he worked to create a Government of National Unity – where dispelling racial division was the principal goal. This in turn, led to the formation of a completely new constitution for the region as well as the formation of a special council which was tasked with investigating the various human rights abuses of the past. Even the forward thinker, Mandela didn’t just stop there though; he also initiated new healthcare programs, land reform, as well as initiatives to deal with the poverty of his citizenry.
What makes Nelson Mandela such an inspiring figure of course is that he clearly demonstrated (through his actions) that one very determined person can in fact make a difference. Moreover, he became a role model on an international level and a subsequent champion of human rights, which is something that very few people have been able (or even willing) to do. In fact, Mr. Mandela received over 250 awards as well as a Nobel Peace Prize (1993) for his efforts.
Furthermore, few people have been able to reach across political and nationalistic boundaries like Mandela. He is one of the few people to receive acclaim from countries and leaders who possess seemingly incompatible philosophies of leadership, which is further illustrated by the fact that he received both a US Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as the Soviet Order of Lenin. While many of his detractors might have even called him a Marxist revolutionary, few can argue the fact that he has actually acted as a mediator in certain situations. Additionally, Mandela’s amazing panache for leadership was such that he seemingly had no compunctions about putting himself in harms way if it
would potentially result in a beneficial outcome (for the people of various nations). Truly one of the more amazing figures of our era, Nelson Mandela continued to pioneer new activism projects right up until the very end of his life. For instance, he created various organizations which are concerned with combating HIV/AIDS as well as poverty, worldwide. In short, the man and his legacy lives on through the inspiration it has provided to various groups and individuals all across the planet who might be seeking freedom from suffering at the hands of disease or human rights abusers.