Saturday, July 18, 2009

Many faces of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born at Qunu, near Umtata on 18 July 1918. His father, was chief councillor to Thembuland's acting chief David Dalindyebo. When his father died, Mandela and was groomed for becoming chief of his local tribe. However Mandela would never be able to make this commitment. July 18 has been earmarked to commemorate Mandela Day. Continue below with Nelson Mandela short biography and photos of the many faces of the great leader from South Africa.

Nelson Mandela in his tribal outfits during the 1960s

Nelson and Winnie Mandela in happier times soon after his release from prison.

FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela address a huge crowd of people after the inauguration ceremony in 1994.

Mandela in 1994 with Walter Sisulu, who was deputy president for the ANC and was a fellow prisoner on Robben Island.

President Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey, presents Francois Pienaar with the William Webb Ellis trophy at Ellis Park in Johannesburg after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

Nelson Mandela talks with Pope John Paul II during their meeting at the Vatican June 18, 1998.

Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel celebrate Mandela's 80th birthday in July 1998, which was also when they got married.

Nelson Mandela lands a playful punch on the chin of Muhammad Ali in Dublin in 2003

Nelson Mandela arrives in London for a week of events to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Whilst at university Nelson Mandela became increasingly aware of the unjust nature of South African Society. The majority of Black South Africans had little opportunities either Economic or Political. Much to the disappointment of his family, Mandela became involved in politics, and along with his good friend and comrade Oliver Tambo was expelled from Fort Hare for organising a student strike. However Mandela was able to finish his degree and qualified as a Lawyer. In 1952 Mandela and Tambo opened the first Black Law firm in South Africa. The Transvaal Law Society tried to have it closed down, although this was blocked by the South African Supreme Court.

In 1944 Mandela helped found the ANC Youth League, whose Programme of Action was adopted by the ANC in 1949. Mandela was instrumental in pushing the ANC into more direct action such as the 1952 Defiance Campaign and later acts of sabotage.

By the late 50s the S.A.state had become increasingly repressive making it more difficult for the ANC to operate. Mandela had to resign from the ANC and work underground. In the late 50s (56 –61) there was an extremely lengthy “Treason Trial” in which Mandela and several others were charged with treason. Conducting their own defence they eventually proved to be victorious. Mandela noted in his autobiography the judiciary were one of the least repressive parts of the South African State and in theory sought to follow the rule of law.

However in 1960 the Sharpeville massacre of 63 black South African’s changed the whole political climate. South Africa was increasingly isolated on the international scene and the government banned the ANC. This led Mandela to advocate armed struggle through the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).

However by 1962 Mandela had been arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in the notorious Robben Island prison. Life at the prison was tough and uncompromising. However in his autobiography Mandela reveals how he sought to make the best use of his time there. He helped to keep other Men’s spirits high and never compromised his political principles when offered earlt release. Towards the end of his prison spell his treatment improved as the South African establishment increasingly looked to negotiation, in the face of international isolation.

Although negotiations were painfully slow and difficult, they eventually led to Mandela’s release in 1990. It was an emotional moment watched by millions around the globe

The next 4 years were also difficult as South African society suffered inter cultural violence between ANC and Inkarta supporters, in addition to slow progress on a new constitution.

However on 10 May 1994 Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on and was President until June 1999. As president, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid. His advocacy of reconciliation led to international acclaim and importantly the trust of the White African population. Despite the initial euphoria of winning the election the ANC faced a difficult challenge to improve the lives of the black population. This was made more difficult by the HIV epidemic, which continues to cause grave problems. (Nelson Mandela recently lost his eldest son to this disease and Mandela has worked hard to campaign on this issue.)

Since retiring from office Nelson Mandela has continued to be an international figure of great stature. He is one of the few politicians who have gone beyond a political role; he is widely admired and has received many prestigious awards. Nelson Mandela is also associated with many educational programmes and initiatives such as Make Poverty History Campaign.

In 1993 Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with F.W. De Klerk


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