Nelson Mandela was born on the 18th of July, 1918, at Mvezo, a tiny Village on the banks of the Mbashe River in the district of Umtata, the capital of the Transkel. From the above, it will be safe to assert that a person place of birth does not determine his destiny. This is because in present day South African, Mandela’s home town is not one of the big cities in the country.

The year of his birth marked the end of the great war; the outbreak of an influenza epidemic that killed millions people throughout the world; and the visit of a delegation of the African National Congress to the Versailles of South African. It must be pointed out here that the birth of this great leader, brought both good and bad things as can be seen above one begins to wonder whether the name, Rolihlahla which means trouble maker given to him at birth by his father affected some parts of his life.

Nelson Mandela’s father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyisiwa was a chief by both blood and custom. He was confirmed as chief of Mvezo by the king of the Thembu tribe but under British rule, his selection had to be ratified by the government, which in Mvezo to the form of the local magustraya. His father also served as principle counselor to the acting king of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Daliindyebo. He died when Mandela was 12 years old and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the great pace in Mghekezialani. Hearing the elders stories of his ancestor’s valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making him own contribution of the freedom struggle of his people. No wonder he said in long walk to freedom and I quote.

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that homes 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”.

Madiba as he was also called, a nickname taken from his clan attended primary school Qunu where his teacher miss Mdingane give him name Nelson, in accordance with the custom to give to all school children “Christian names. This name was given to him on the first day he attended school. He completed his finer certificate at clarkebury Boarding institution and want on to Healdtown, a Wesley and secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Nelson Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest. He completed his bachelor of Arts (BA) through the university of South Arica and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1948

On his return to the great place of Mghekezweni, the king was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin justice. Justice was four years old than Mandela. They ran away to Johanneshong instead, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Waller Sisulu, an estate agent, who introduced him to Lazar sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorney, Witkin Eidelman and Sidelsky. Meanwhile he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduesting. He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete the degree.

 In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LL.B through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absents at a ceremony in Cape Town. Nelson Mandela, while increasingly poetically involved from 1942, only joined the Africa national congress (ANC).

In 1944, he married Water Sisulu’s consin Evelyn Mass,a  nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile, “Thembi” and Makgatho and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. They effectively separated in 1955 and divorced in 1958. He rise through the ranks of the ANC, Youth leader and through its work, in 1949, the African Nation congress adopted a more radical mass bases policy, the programme of action.

In 1952 he was chosen at the National volunteer-in chief of the Defiance Campaign with Manlvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was at joint programme between the Africa National congress and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the suppression of communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to mine months hard labour suspended for two years, what a sacrifices to humanity?

A two-year diploma in law on top of his Bachelor of Arts allowed Nelson Mandela to practice law, and in August, 1952 law firm, Mandela and Tambo. At the end of 1952, he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person, he was only permitted to watch in secret as freedom charter was adopted in Ktptown on June 26, 1955. Nelson Mandela was arrested in a country wide police swoop on 5th December, 1955, hich led to the 1956 trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the desk in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mr. Mandela were acquitted on 29 March, 1961.

On 21st March 1960, police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest against the pass laws held at Sharpeville. This led to the country’s National congress and the plan Africanist Congress on 8 April, 1960. Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the treason trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency. During the trail on 14 June, 1958, Nelson Mandela married a social worker, Winne Madikela. They had two daughters, Zeriani and Yndziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the treason trial, Nelson Mandela traveled to Pictermaintzburg to speak at the Altin-Africa conference, which resolved that he should write to the prime minister Verwoerd requesting a non-racial national convention, and to warn that should he not agree, there should be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. As soon as he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason trial, Nelson Mandela went underground and began planning a National strike for 29, 30 and 31 March. In the face of massive mobilization of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto Wesizwe (spear of the Nation).

On 11 January, 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Nelson Mandela secretly left South Africa. He traveled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Moro in July, 1962. He was arrested in a police road block outside Howick on 5 August while returning from Kwazulu-National where he briefed African National congress president chief Albert Luibuli about his Trip. He was charged with leaving the country illegally and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentence to five years imprisonment May 1963, he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided a secret hide-out in Rivonia used by Africa National congress and were arrested.

On 9 October, 1963, Nelson Mandela joined ten others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia trial. Which facing the penalty his words to the convert at the end of his famous ‘speech from the Dock’ on 20 April 1964 became immortalized it reads thus.
“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 l live for and to achieve. But if needs be it is an ideal for which lam prepared to die”.
From the above extract, it is clear that all times Nelson Mandela was always prepared to die for his service to humanity.

On 11 June 1964, Nelson Mandela and seven other accused; Waller Sisulu, Ahmed Kath rada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhtaba, Oenis Goldberg, Ehas Motsoaledi and Andraw Mlargeni were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Denics holdberg was sent to Pretoria prison because he was white, while the other went to Robben Island. Nelson Mandela mother died in 1968 and his eldest son Thembi in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 march 1982, nelson Mandela was transferred to pollsmoor prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he refunded to the prison in November 1985, after prostate surgery, Nelson Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobiewe Tsee visited him in hospital. Later nelson Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between apartheid government and the African National congress. What a determination, he was still tifhting even from the prison. Indeed this greet African is a rate germ. His exemplary leadership should be emulated by other world leaders especially in third world countries.

On 12 august 1988, he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After more than three months in two hospitals, he was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house of Victor Verster prison near paarl where he spent to last 14 months of imprisonment. He was released from and gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the un banning of the Africa national congress and the pan Africanist congress and nearly four months after the release of his remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment, he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.

Nelson Mandda immense himself in official talks to end while white rule end in 1991 was elected African national he and president F.W Deklerk jointly won the Noble peace prize and on 27 April 1994, he voted for the first time in his life. On the 10th day of May, 1994, he was inaugurated south  Africa’s first democratically elected president. On his 80th birthday in 1998, he married Graca Machel, his third wife.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years as a political prisoner in south Africa before becoming a remarkable twist, the country’s first black president. He used his stature to help dismantle apartheid in south Africa and formed a new multi-racial democracy in the country. His auto biography, long Walk to Freedom was also published 1994.

True to his promise, nelson Mandela stepped down 1999 after one term as president. He continued to work with the nelson Mandela children’s fund he set up in 1995 and established the nelson Mandela foundation and the Mandela Rhodes foundation. In April 2007, his grand son Mandela Mandela became head of Nvozo Traditional council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism.  His life has been an inspiration all who are oppressed and deprived; to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation. He died on the 5th day of December, 2013 at the age of 95. A great Iroko has indeed fallen. What a great loss to South African in particular and Africa in  general.

During the lifetime of Nelson Mandela, two principles governed his life at Mahekezweni. These two principles were chieftaincy and church. These two dot times existed in uneary harmony, although he did not see them as antagonistic. For him, chieftaincy was not so much a system of beliefs as it was the powerful creed of a single man. He was played in the movies by Idris Elba (Mandela: Long walk to freedom, 2013) Morgan Freeman (Nicty, 2009), Sidney Poitier (Mandela and de Klerk, 1997) and Denny glover (Mandela, 1987).

He was circumcised at the age of sixteen in accordance with the tradition and custom on Xhosa. According to that trading to that tradition, an uncircumcised xhosa man is a contradiction in terms, for he is not considered a man at all, but a boy. It is not a surgical procedure, but a lengthy and celebrate initial in preparation for man hood. As a xhosa, Mandela counted his years as a man from that date of circumcision.

Though this great leader is dead, Mandela remained a celebrated figure in South African and throughout the world until his death. His autobiography Long walk to Freedom, was published in 1994. This write up will not be complete if some of the quotes of this great leader are omitted. Some of Nelson Mandela’s popular quotes include.

1. Education is the most powerful weapon which up can use to change the world.
2. When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an out law”
3. “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 fear.
4. Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”
5. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural, it is man-made and it can be over come and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom”.
6. “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”.

In conclusion, the most cherished quote of Nelson Mandela is the one when he was released from the prison. Then he said and I quote.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have trial not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I can dare not linger for my long work is not ended”.

It is safe to assert from the above quote of Nelson Mandela, that he never lost hope in his dream of transformation. He continued this struggle until his death notwithstanding the challenges.

In all, it is hereby suggested that leaders across the globe should emulated the exemplary leadership of Nelson Mandela in order to make the planet earth a place worth learning. The question is who will be the next Mandela?
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