Nelson Mandela: a man to remember

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Nelson Mandela has made a lasting impact on the world.

To South Africans, he was “the father of the nation.” To the world, he was a man to be looked up to.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, the world lost one of its most respected and influential men, Nelson Mandela. All over the world, leaders and citizens paid tribute to ‘Madiba,’ which is a reference to his Xhosa clans name, a respectful name that South Africans used to refer to Mandela.

 His story intrigues us because of the way he combated unjust oppression and 27 years of unwarranted imprisonment not with hate or forfeit, but with an even more selfless approach to resolve his original goals.

“Nelson Mandela was a man who really made himself known by establishing himself as a true leader,” said freshman Shubham Gajera. “I respect the things he was able to achieve because he did what he believed was right and stood up for what was right.”

As a youth, Mandela was very well educated, which lead him to be an important figure in the fight against the oppression forced upon the black population by the South African government. Segregation was condoned by the government, which divided South Africa into two distinct lands solely based on the color of one’s skin.

Mandela was arrested numerous times for his leadership in the black community, because the government considered it seditious activity. He initially promoted a nonviolent revolution, but later co-founded the “Umkhonto we Sizwe” when he decided that there was no choice but to fight back.

The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices — submit or fight,” said Mandela in a manifesto given when the Umkhonto we Sizwe formed. “That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defense of our people, our future, and our freedom.”

The group began fighting violence with violence, and Mandela, among with others, was arrested in 1962, and was sentenced with life imprisonment in 1964 at the age of 46. It would be a whole 27 years before he was in the public eye again.

Mandela would spend more than one-fourth of his life in prison, where he was subjected to harsh physical labor designed to deteriorate his revolutionary spirit. However, Mandela used his situation to strengthen himself in mind, and when he was finally released in 1990, he was a better leader than before. He was released due to an international campaign that pushed the South African government to reluctantly cut Mandela’s chains.

Mandela successfully opened negations with the government to have a multiracial election, and in 1994, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, he became the first black South American president. His term was based on the idea of weakening the racial tension set in the nation by the Apartheid policies that were placed during the previous years, which condoned segregation. He also made effective reforms in the economy, poverty, education, and healthcare. Even after his term, Mandela maintained his status as a face of human rights by establishing numerous organizations to support the lives of many.

“I really respect what Nelson Mandela did in his lifetime regarding how he managed to change how people viewed other people of different races,” said sophomore Leeban Farah. “I’m kind of amazed at the fact that he was able to do all works he did even after going through a big part of his life in jail.”

            Nelson Mandela’s death came as a mix of dismay and celebration; dismay because we lost a great person, and celebration because we look back at his life and celebrate the positive impacts he has made on our world.

            Nelson Mandela is a man who must not be forgotten. Thank you Madiba.