Centennial of Nelson Mandela’s birth today

Published : 18 Jul 2018, 13:07

Sahos Desk

The centennial birth anniversary of South Africa's anti-apartheid icon and the first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela is being celebrated on Wednesday in a befitting manner. 

A ceremony is taking place in Johannesburg to honor his vision for democracy and social inclusion. While many in South Africa appreciate the work to reconcile the Rainbow Nation's racial divide, the county still struggles with racial and economic tensions that date back to the apartheid era. 

Nelson Mandela's successful struggle against South Africa's apartheid system of racial segregation and discrimination made him a global symbol for the cause of human rights and earned him the Nobel Prize.  

Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa from 1994-1999 and the first president elected after the end of apartheid, an extensive system of segregation and discrimination based on race.  

For over 20 years, Mandela worked for the African National Congress, the opposition party that advocated for black civil and human rights under apartheid. 

Dressed as a chauffeur, Mandela was arrested on August 5, 1962, for inciting strikes and leaving the country without permission. He would be in jail until 1990, serving time in multiple prisons including Robben Island, where he spent 18 years. 

In 1963, Mandela was also charged with sabotage. At his trial, which is now known as the Rivonia Trial, he gave his famous Speech from the Dock, stating, “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.”

In prison, Mandela lived in a small cell without a bed or plumbing, forced to do hard labor in a limestone quarry during the day. His work in the quarry permanently damaged Mandela’s eyes, injuring his tear glands so severely that the leader could not produce tears later in life.  

Mandela earned his bachelor of law degree from the University of South Africa while imprisoned. 

In 1993, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize, sharing the award with Frederik Willem de Klerk for the “peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”   

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then part of South Africa's Cape Province. In November 2009, the United Nations declared July 18, the leader’s birthday, Mandela Day in honor of his contribution to peace around the world.

Mandela's real first name is Rolihlahla, meaning "pulling the branch of a tree" or "troublemaker." He was given the name Nelson by a teacher because, in the early 20th century, South African children were often given English names due to the colonial presence in the country.

Many South Africans refer to Mandela as “mkhulu,” which means grandfather in Zulu.  

Mandela had six children: Madiba, Makaziwe, Magkatho, Pumla, Zenani and Zindzi. He also had 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at home in Houghton, South Africa, due to a recurring lung infection.

Source: daily-bangladesh

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