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Remembering NELSON MANDELA: The troublemaker, the Father of the Nation and the Icon of Democracy in South Africa

APART FROM LIFE, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means pulling the branch of a tree, but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be troublemaker. I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future, but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered. My more familiar English or Christian name was not given to me until my first day of school. But I am getting ahead of myself. -Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the son of one of South Africa's leading dignitaries, Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe, and was as a young law student that he became involved in political opposition to the white minority regime. In 1942, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), with its main goal to work to improve conditions and rights for people of color in South Africa. After the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party, with its apartheid policy of racial segregation, Mandela was prominent in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, whose adoption of the Freedom Charter provided the fundamental programme of the anti-apartheid cause. In 1961, he became the commander of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. In August of the following year, he was arrested and jailed for five years. In June 1964, he was sentenced again, this time to life imprisonment, for his involvement in planning armed action. On 9 October 1963 Nelson Mandela joined ten others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous Speech from the Dock on 20 April 1964 became immortalized: I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

He started his prison years in the infamous Robben Island Prison, a maximum security facility on a small island off the coast of Cape Town. In April 1984, he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town and in December 1988 he was moved to the Victor Verster Prison near Paarl from where he was eventually released. While in prison, Mandela rejected offers made by his wardens for remission of sentence in exchange for accepting the bantustan policy by recognizing the independence of the Transkei region and agreeing to settle there. Among opponents of apartheid in South Africa and internationally, he became a cultural symbol of freedom and equality. The twenty-seven years that Mandela spent in prison, his example of quiet suffering was just one of many pressures on South Africa's apartheid government. Public discussion of Mandela was illegal, and he was allowed few visitors. But as the years dragged on, he was increasingly viewed as a martyr in South Africa and around the world, making him a symbol of international protests against apartheid. On 2 February 1990, South African President F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison on 11 February 1990. After his release, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and led the party in the multi-party negotiations that resulted in the country's first multi-racial elections. On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated South Africas first democratically elected President. As the first black president of South Africa, he presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid. He won praise for his leadership during this time, even from his former white opponents in South Africa. In 1999 after one term as President Nelson Mandela stepped down in office. But that did not stop him to continue to work with the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation wherein he donated a third of his annual salary as president. Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life has been an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation. He sure is the man to look up to and be respected. A man of honor and courage he

is the loving father of South Africa, no other is comparable to him, a towering figure in the 20th century, that is Nelson Mandela. He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013 which made the whole world mourn for the loss of a father, a leader, a hero who proved that one man can make a great change to history. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy, US President Barrack Obama, at Nelson Mandelas Memorial