Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the South African anti-racism revolutionary who was imprisoned for 27-long years and later became the first black President of South Africa passed away on 5 December. The world mourned departure of Mandela, who left an inspirational legacy and never-dying spirit which will continue to show path for generations to come.
He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. After entering into the office, he had focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid (Apartheid -"the state of being apart" was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) governments, who were the ruling party of South Africa from 1948 to 1994, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and Afrikaner minority rule was maintained.) through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation.
Born in Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the pro-apartheid South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in 1952 with ANC’s Defiance Campaign and eventually presided over the 1955 Congress of the People.
Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and then in Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Then he opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory.
As South Africa's first black President, Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.
Mandela was politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist and believed that developing countries should grow their stature in world affairs. He served as Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela developed a special relationship with India. He chose India for his first international visit as President of South Africa. He was considered as the living legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the only foreigner awarded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India; considering Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s intimate relationship with India and its independence movement.
Though Western critics had denounced Mandela for his Marxist ties, he nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name Madiba or as Tata (Father); he is often described as "The Father of the Nation". Mandela died following a long illness on 5 December 2013 at his home in Johannesburg.
Sakshiedcaution.com expresses its deep condolences for Mandelas and the country of South Africa and remembers the man, whose life was full of humanitarian achievements.