We all know Nelson Mandela as the popular South African activist and former president who helped bring an end to apartheid. Mandela was indeed a true leader. He was a man who dreamed the impossible dream. He once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Surely one of his finest quotes which has inspired over a gazillion people and would keep inspiring several more. Here are some of the facts from his 95 years of life.
1. Appreciation and Rewards
Without any doubt, he was the people person who was worth every award. He received more than 695 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. More than 25 schools, universities and educational institutions have been named after Nelson Mandela. At least 19 scholarships and foundations bear his name. More than 95 sculptures, statues, or pieces of art have been made of him or dedicated to him in his love. Well, Mandela was indeed a figure which transformed the life of millions and gave them a life of dignity and rights.
2. Towards His End
Mandela grew increasingly frail in his later years because of cancer and other health issues. Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 from a recurring lung infection. A national mourning period of ten days was announced by then existing president Zuma.
3. Supported People Suffering from AIDS
Besides being an anti-apartheid revolutionist, this former South African president was known for reaching out to include all sectors of society. Even after finishing his presidency, he remained a devoted supporter for peace and social justice in his own country and around the world. He established a number of organizations. Besides, Mandela became a vocal advocate of AIDS awareness and treatment programs in a culture where the stigma has turned into an epidemic.
4. Journey of Becoming a President
After attaining his freedom, Nelson Mandela led the ANC in its negotiations with the governing National Party and various other South African political organizations for an end to apartheid and the establishment of a multiracial government. In 1994, more than 22 million South Africans turned out to cast ballots in the country’s first multiracial parliamentary elections in history. An overwhelming majority chose the ANC to lead the country, Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa.
5. Mandela Year’s Behind Bars
Something which is worth admiring, Nelson Mandela spent a very long period of his life in jail just to stand against the apartheid. He spent 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison, where he was confined to a small cell without a bed and compelled to do hard labor. As a black political prisoner, he received limited rations and fewer privileges than other inmates. They were even subjected to inhuman treatment. He could easily have been released from jail many years earlier because of his acquaintances but he refused the offer and stood with his beliefs.
6. Formation of “Umkhonto we Sizwe”
In 1961, Nelson Mandela co-founded and became the first leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”), also known as MK, a new armed wing of the ANC. Under Mandela’s leadership, MK launched a sabotage campaign against the government, which had recently declared South Africa a republic and withdrawn from the British Commonwealth.
7. Mark of Anti-apartheid Work
He studied law at the University of Witwatersrand, where he became involved in the movement against racial discrimination and forged key relationships with black and white activists. This marked the beginning of his participation for revolution which witnessed success in future. In 1944, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC). This party basically staged campaigns of passive resistance against apartheid laws.
8. Mandela as a bright Student
Though seems unconvincing at first, he was first in his family to receive. He went on to attend the Clarkebury Boarding Institute and Healdtown, where he mastered in boxing and track as well as academics. In 1939 Mandela entered the elite University of Fort Hare, the only Western-style higher learning institute for South African blacks at the time. The next year, he and several other students, were sent home for participating in a boycott against university policies.
9. Mandela Day
In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 “Mandela Day.” It’s his birthday, but it’s also a national celebration and recognition of Mandela’s contributions to freedom.
10. Story Behind the name “Mandela”
Mandela’s birth name wasn’t really Nelson—it was Rolihlahla, which his school teachers find hard to pronounce. One of them started calling him Nelson after British admiral Horatio Nelson. Apparently everyone else thought that was easier to say than “Rolihlahla” too, because the name obviously has too many “L”s and “H”s. Besides being called as Nelson, many South Africans referred him as Madiba, his Xhosa clan name.