The Man of Peace – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary. Political leader and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.
Born: 18 July 1918, Mvezo, South Africa
Died: 5 December 2013, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa
Spouse: Graça Machel (m. 1998–2013)
Awards: Nobel Peace Prize, Bharat Ratna, Nishan-e-Pakistan, MORE
Movies: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela: The Myth & Me

Entering politics

Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League .

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile “Thembi” and Makgatho, and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practice law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

Arrest and Rivonia trial: 1962–1964

On 5 August 1962, police captured Mandela along with fellow activist Cecil Williams near Howick. Many MK members suspected that the authorities had been tipped off with regard to Mandela’s whereabouts, although Mandela himself gave these ideas little credence.

In later years, Donald Rickard, a former American diplomat revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency, who feared Mandela’s associations with communists, had informed the South African police of his location. Jailed in Johannesburg’s Marshall Square prison, Mandela was charged with inciting workers’ strikes and leaving the country without permission. Representing himself with Slovo as legal advisor, Mandela intended to use the trial to showcase “the ANC’s moral opposition to racism” while supporters demonstrated outside the court.

Moved to Pretoria, where Winnie could visit him, he began correspondence studies for a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London International Programmes. His hearing began in October, but he disrupted proceedings by wearing a traditional kaross, refusing to call any witnesses, and turning his plea of mitigation into a political speech. Found guilty, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment; as he left the courtroom, supporters sang “Nkosi Sikelel Afrika”.

Nelson Mandela timeline of achievements

11 February 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison after 27 years of imprisonment.

1991 – He is elected president of the African National Congress (ANC).

21 December 1991 – The first plenary session of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codessa) is held at the World Trade Centre in Johannesburg.

10 December 1993 – Mandela and de Klerk jointly win the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid peacefully.

27 April 1994 – The first democratic elections are held in South Africa.

10 May 1994 – Mandela is inaugurated as the first black democratically elected president of South Africa.

24 May 1994 –Mandela introduces the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to address socio-economic issues such as jobs, land, housing, water, electricity, telecommunications and transport and resolve and alleviate poverty.

8 May 1995 – Mandela launches the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, a charitable organization which aims to help young people, particularly orphans of the AIDS crisis.

19 July 1995 – Mandela signs a bill into law creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to uncover human rights abuses during the apartheid era.

10 December 1996 – Mandela signs into law the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. It established a strong central government based on majority rule, and guaranteeing both the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression.

June 1996 – the Growth, Employment and Redistribution macroeconomic policy was introduced to replace RDP. The policy proposed a set of medium-term policies aimed at the rapid liberalization of the South African economy.

June 1999 – Mandela steps down after one term as President and retires from active politics.

September 1999– The Nelson Mandela Foundation is founded to promote Mandela’s vision of freedom and equality for all. Post presidency, Mandela raised money to build schools and clinics in South Africa’s rural areas advocated for peace and equality and remained committed in his fight against AIDS.

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