The world celebrates Nelson Mandela

Take a look into Nelson Mandela's life and legacy

The world celebrates Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela in Mexico in 1991 – Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 18/07/2020 11:18 Mexico Jerónimo Andreau/Correspondant Actualizada 11:18
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In 2018, former U.S. President, Barck Obama, gave a lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mark Mandela's 100th birthday, he said that “Mandela said young people are capable when aroused of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom".

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is South Africa's biggest icon, he was incarcerated for 27 years and when he was finally released from jail, in 1990, he began a transformation progress in his country. He transformed post-apartheid South Africa through a peace process that culminated in his election win, becoming the first black president in the history of his country.

He was born into a poor family, and from a young age, he rebelled against racism and the racial segregation system that operated in South Africa. He studied law and joined the African National Congress (ANC) to fight for black people's rights. He radicalized in 1948 when the governing party legally separated the country between whites, mixed races, Indians, and blacks, in a descending order, which also affected their rights.

Mandela traveled through South Africa to promote civil disobedience, including violent actions. Years later, he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for terrorism.

He was first jailed in Robben Island, in 1963, widely known for its harsh conditions and brutality, and then in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster.

It was too late when England and the United States stopped supporting the South African government, as thousands of people had been displaced or murdered and traumatized by racism and hate. Both countries applied economic sanctions on the racist stronghold, which took a toll on the country. The pressure grew thanks to the decaying economy and the demand to free Mandela.

It wasn't until 1990 that he was liberated. He began the transition period and on June 17, 1991, all three chambers of the South African parliament abolished the apartheid. He then won the Presidential election in 1994, a year after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

As President, he invited other parties to collaborate with him, to join his cabinet. He also promulgated a Constitution and created a commission to investigate human rights violations, and to finally reconcile all sectors of society.

Mandela became an icon all over the world, much like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi. His legacy will prevail and triumph over that of the apartheid, which was full of hate and racism. The apartheid left a deep wound in South Africa, yet people like Nelson Mandela decided to mend it, and he will be remembered as a leader who fought for his people and for justice.

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