Nelson Mandela: A Great Leader Dies
12/05/2013 @ 4:54PM
Nelson Mandela was the greatest leader of our age. He died today at 95 of a lung infection connected to the tuberculosis he contracted while serving 27 years as a political prisoner. All South Africans, and everyone around the world who admires his heroic adherence to his principles and his extraordinary decision to embrace and forgive his former oppressors, is in deep mourning over his loss.
“If you want to make peace with your enemy you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner,” he wrote in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, published four years after his release from prison in 1990. Following his jail term, with the violent, racist apartheid system crumbling under world pressure, he embraced President F.W. de Klerk and then served alongside him in a transitional coalition of national unity. The two men won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
One of Mandela’s other huge achievements: Instead of prosecuting the crimes of many apartheid-era commanders and enforcers, in 1995 he agreed to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where victims of racist violence and torture could tell their stories and perpetrators told theirs. The commission granted violent former government officials and employees amnesty in exchange for their honesty about what they did. Though controversial, the process was also hailed as a triumph of mercy and a meaningful step toward healing the country’s deepest wounds.
When Mandela was born in 1918, in a rural village in the Cape Province, apartheid had not yet been completely enshrined as law. But a system of strict, violent racial segregation was already in place. Mandela’s given name, Rolihlahla, was apt. In the Khosa language it means “troublemaker.”
He was a member of the royal Thembu family, which controlled the Transkei region, an area relegated to blacks by the white government. At a local Methodist school, his first teacher gave him the Christian name Nelson. He is also widely known by his clan name, “Madiba.”
His father died when he was nine years old, and a Thembu chief raised him. When he was 23, he ran away from a marriage the chief had arranged for him in the Transkei, moving to Johannesburg where he studied law as one of a handful of black students at Witwatersrand University. That same year he joined the African National Congress, and later he co-founded the ANC’s youth league together with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. In 1944, three years after leaving home, he married his first wife, Evelyn Mase. They had four children.
In 1948 the National Party came to power and started passing a series of laws enforcing racial segregation, which became known as apartheid. Four years later, Mandela opened the country’s first black law office with Tambo, representing defendants who were oppressed by the system. In 1955 he banded together with South Africans of Indian descent, mixed race South Africans, and trade union representatives to draft the Freedom Charter, calling for the creation of a democratic, non-racial state with the nationalization of major corporations.
The government first prosecuted Mandela in 1956 when it charged him and 155 other activists with treason. After a four-year trial, the authorities dropped the case. In 1958 he divorced his first wife and married social worker Winnie Madikizela. Two years later the government outlawed the ANC and Mandela went underground as the apartheid regime became more oppressive. That same year police massacred 69 protesters in the Johannesburg township of Sharpeville. Though he had initially committed to non-violent protest, in 1961 he co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (the Spear of the Nation, also known as MK), a group that waged a bombing campaign against government targets.
In 1964 the government again put Mandela on trial. Facing a death sentence, he made a famous, four-hour-long speech that concluded with these moving words that underlined his commitment to non-racialism:
“ During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
He and eight others were convicted of conspiracy, sabotage and treason and sentenced to life in prison. He spent much of it in a tiny cell on Robben Island, a barren, windswept expanse in shark-infested Table Bay, four miles from Cape Town, where he worked in a rock quarry and secretly wrote his memoir, which he hid from guards inside tin cans buried in the prison vegetable patch.
By the 1980s, anti-apartheid activists were publicizing Mandela’s name as the imprisoned leader of the struggle against apartheid and the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” gained popularity around the world. Inside South Africa the police and military killed and tortured thousands who continued to protest apartheid. Finally, after years of international ridicule and the tightening of economic sanctions that had begun in 1967, on Feb. 2, 1990, de Klerk lifted the ban on the A.N.C. Nine days later Mandela walked free from prison. He delivered these timeless lines at Cape Town City Hall on Feb. 11, 1990:
“ Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.
South Africa held its first all-race democratic election in 1994 and overwhelmingly chose Mandela. He immediately faced huge problems, including rampant poverty, high unemployment, a vastly unequal education system, rising crime and a call by many South Africans to nationalize businesses and return land to the original black owners. Instead he negotiated a series of compromises that remain controversial. Most multinational corporations stayed, and some black South Africans have amassed significant wealth, but the majority of the population still lives in poverty and confronts one of the highest crime rates in the world and an AIDS crisis, with more than 10% of the population living with the HIV virus.
Mandela became a leading spokesman for AIDs prevention and treatment in South Africa, where many people in the black community have seen the illness as taboo. After his son Makgatho died of AIDS in 2005, Mandela spoke out: “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary.” Mandela pushed for people with HIV to be given anti-retroviral drugs in South Africa, and spearheaded a campaign to declare a global AIDS emergency, insisting that fighting AIDS was a human rights issue.
Another of Mandela’s many accomplishments, memorialized in the movie Invictus: In 1995, when South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup, he encouraged all South Africans to support the national team, the Springboks, who had previously been a symbol of white exclusion.
Mandela divorced wife Winnie in 1996 and then in 1998, on his 80th birthday, he married Graca Machel, the widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel.
After he stepped down from the presidency in 1999, he intended to go into retirement but wound up founding the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which devoted much of its resources to AIDS activism and becoming vocal on international affairs, speaking out against the war in Iraq. Finally in 2004, at age 84 and in failing health, he stepped back from public life, saying, “Don’t call me, I will call you,” though he kept some involvement in international affairs, urging Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to resign over his many human rights abuses. He also successfully campaigned for South Africa to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Though he kept a low profile during the tournament, he made a rare public appearance during the closing ceremony.
Mandela has been a powerful inspiration to millions of people around the world for the strength of character he showed in the face of one of the world’s most brutal regimes and his enduring power to accept and forgive his former oppressors. One of those whom he most inspired: President Obama, who wrote an introduction to Mandela’s 2010 book, Conversations With Myself. Describing the early impact Mandela had on his own life, Obama wrote, “His sacrifice was so great that it called upon people everywhere to do what they could on behalf of human progress. In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who tried to answer his call.”
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
as seen in the credits of Cry Freedom( 『遠い夜明け』 ).
This is simply a song called Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God bless Africa), which was later adapted and merged with the former national anthem and an English part to become South Africa's national anthem.