Personajes en la Historia: Nelson Mandela
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
Last week the world lost one of the most extraordinary human beings, Nelson Mandela. Born from humble beginnings in a small African Village, he rose to become a political activist for the freedom of the people in Apartheid South Africa. He started to attend ANC meetings (African National Congress) and became a member in 1942. Their non-defiant civil disobedience demonstrations angered the Apartheid government who tried to restrict his movements and he was convicted by the government of trying to plot arson and overthrow the government for which he was sent to prison on a remote island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. This was his home for the next 27 years. He continued to fight against the Apartheid regime even from prison until eventually in February 1990 the government declared the ANC party legal and he was released.
Along with F.W De Klerk, the president of South Africa, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Then in 1994 for the first time in 300 years, blacks in South Africa had the opportunity to elect their own leader and at after a landslide victory at the age of 77, became the first black president of South Africa. From 1994 until June 1999, Mandela worked to bring about the transition from minority rule and apartheid to black majority rule.
Mandela also worked tirelessly to protect South Africa’s economy from collapse during his presidency. Through his Reconstruction and Development Plan, the South African government funded the creation of jobs, housing and basic health care. In 1996, Mandela signed into law a new constitution for the nation, establishing a strong central government based on majority rule, and guaranteeing both the rights of minorities and the freedom of expression. He continued to strive to improve the country’s economy and reputation around the world in particular he remained committed to highlighting the issue of AIDS, a disease which killed his son in 2005.
As an advocate for peace and equality in the world , Nelson Mandela remained a a huge public figure on the world stage. In later years Nelson Mandela’s health began to suffer.He was hospitalized several times for a recurrent lung infection and he remained largely out of the spotlight in public life. After a another health scare in March of this year Nelson Mandela’s health remained friagile until he eventually succumbed to his illness at home in Johannesburg on December 5th 2013. His struggle, quotes and legacy will remain an inspiration for those striving for peace, equality and reconciliation all over the world.