Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo in Umtata, then a part of South Africa’s Cape Province. Nelson’s father, Gadla, was a polygamist, having four wives, four sons, and nine daughters, who lived in different villages. Nelson’s mother was Gadla’s third wife, Nosekeni Fanny. He grew up in his mother’s home.
Mandela studied to become a lawyer and became increasingly committed to and active in, the African National Congress which was against apartheid. He was arrested several times through the years, sometimes getting off, sometimes serving small sentences. But in July 1963, he and several other were arrested. Mandela and two of the others were found guilty of four counts of sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Recovering from tuberculosis exacerbated by the dank conditions in his cell, in December 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl. Here, he was housed in the relative comfort of a warder’s house with a personal cook, using the time to complete his LLB degree. The newly elected leader of South Africa, F. W. de Klerk met with Mandela in December 1989 to discuss the situation, a meeting both men considered friendly, before legalizing all formerly banned political parties in February 1990 and announcing Mandela’s unconditional release.
In 1994 he became president and began the difficult work of bringing reconciliation to South Africa. He oversaw the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by both the government and the ANC, appointing Desmond Tutu as its chair. After suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection, Mandela died on December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, leaving an amazing legacy.
Quotes by Nelson Mandela
Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.
A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
One effect of sustained conflict is to narrow our vision of what is possible.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.
Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.
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