Nelson Mandela

by: Solomon Gonzalez

Nelson Mandela (Rolihlahla) was born on July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, South Africa. He was born into the Thembu royal family, a group of people who speak Xhosa.

His father was a counselor the the tribal chiefs, but soon lost his position due to an arguing to a local magistrate. This action forced the family to move to Qunu, an even smaller village up north. There, Mandela was baptized at the methodist church and became the first in his family to attend a school. The name Nelson was given to him there.

When Nelson was 9, his father died of lung cancer and was forced to be adopted by a Thembu chief and was moved to Mqhekezweni, the capital of Thembuland.

Nelson Mandela attended the University College of Fort Hare in 1939, the only center that gave a higher level of education at the time. This University was Africa’s “Harvard University”. There he focused on Roman Dutch law to obtain a civil service career, which was one of the best careers available for Mandela.

Nelson Mandela attended the University College of Fort Hare in 1939, the only center that gave a higher level of education at the time. This University was Africa’s “Harvard University”. There he focused on Roman Dutch law to obtain a civil service career, which was one of the best careers available for Mandela.

The Thembu Chief that adopted him had told Nelson that he was arranged to marry. He felt trapped because of this and ran away to Johannesburg. In Johannesburg Nelson studied law in the University of Witwatersrand.

Nelson soon became apart of a movement to rebel against the Apartheid, a system of racial segregation. He became a member of the African National Congress in 1942. This group used non-violent methods, which were thought to be ineffective by many.

In 1956 Nelson was arrested and charged with treason along with 150 others.

After Nelson was brought out of jail, he began to believe nonviolence was not the answer to change. Nelson created a three-day national workers strike in 1961 that earned him 5 years behind bars the following year.

However, in 1963 Nelson was charged with political offenses and sentenced to life in jail. There, he earned his Bachelor of Law degree through a University of London program.

Nelson was released from jail on Feb. 11, 1990 due to president P.W. Botha being replaced with Frederik Willem de Klerk. the next year Nelson was elected president of the African National Congress. Nelson continued to negotiate with de Klerk for the next multi-racial election.

In 1994 Nelson’s negotiations finally worked! The first Democratic elections were held. Nelson was elected South Africa’s first black president at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy. He established a strong government that uses majority rule. This new government also gives the minorities rights and the freedom of expression.

In 1999, Nelson Mandela had retired from active politics, but continued to raise money for charities and publish books on the struggles he faced. Nelson also raised money to fight AIDS, the disease that killed his son in 2005.

Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 on Dec. 5 of 2013 in his home in Johannesburg. July 18 is now known as Mandela day, a day to promote peace in the world and celebrate his legacy.

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