As I write this with a heavy heart, Nelson Mandela lays in a hospital bed in Pretoria, South Africa. He clings to life with the support of machines to help him breathe with his family at his side. While his family brace themselves for the inevitable, the South African nation is preparing for the loss of an icon. I know this might seem like ‘jumping the gun’ a little, but Nelson Mandela is 94 years old which is pretty impressive for anyone, let alone for someone who has been through what this man has.

Nelson Mandela did what many others wanted to but were too afraid, he stood up for the rights of his fellow man and said No More! For this he was incarcerated, condemned to a life of imprisonment for daring to speak out against a Government which favoured the few.

Yes I am talking about apartheid. A regime which segregated the white from the blacks of South Africa, made the white man richer and the black man poorer.

The fight for equality.

It was early in life that Nelson Mandela joined the political activists which were the ANC. A movement which began its life with strictly peaceful protest and in 1962 Nelson Mandela was sentenced to his first spell in prison with a sentence of 5 years for unlawfully exiting the country and incitement to strike. While he is in prison, his fellow ANC leaders are arrested and after a trial in 1964, they are all sentenced to life in prison. Nelson Mandela spends the next 18 years in the Robben Island political prison.

Nelson Mandela at Robben Island.

During his incarceration at Robben Island.


Whilst Nelson Mandela was in prison the fight for equality raged on. Mandela, along with other ANC leaders were transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town in 1982. This was a deliberate move by the regime to remove their influence on a new young generation of young black activists imprisoned at Robben Island.

Being a child of the 70’s I don’t remember anything of it until the 80’s, by this time Nelson Mandela became synonymous with anti-apartheid. The news was filled with violent clashes between the police and the oppressed of South Africa while the white people enjoyed a more affluent lifestyle. The political pressure on the South African Government from the rest of the world was beginning to increase as the world became more aware of the stark contrast between races within the country. Celebrities were taking an interest with songs being written calling for Mandela’s release from prison, this was swiftly banned in South Africa. In 1985 Nelson Mandela rejects an offer of release from prison, the offer comes with a demand that he denounces the use of violence as political weapon. I remember the concert held in London in honour of Mandela’s 70th birthday, it was a great day with numerous artists performing in support of the former ANC leader and only a year later President PW Botha Botha dies of a heart attack.

Released at last.

It was FW de Klerk who replaced the stricken leader of South Africa and declares that Nelson Mandela and his fellow political prisoners will be released. The resistance movements were unbanned and Mandela walked free from prison in a cloud of media frenzy in 1990, 26 years after his incarceration.

Nelson Mandela, free at last.

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison was reported worldwide.

Swiftly following Nelson Mandela’s release, negotiations begin to try to resolve the apartheid issue in a peaceful manner, while things appear to be progressing an election puts a spanner in the works, this is quickly resolved until the Boipatong massacre. 48 people were killed in a night raid on a village and this sparked further violence and protest which cost more lives. Negotiations continued with the country on the brink of civil war, this was a long and drawn out process during which time more people were killed, including the leader of the Communist party and senior member of the ANC Chris Hani, who was assassinated outside his home. The leader of the Conservative party and a Polish immigrant were arrested and charged with his murder while the peace talks picked up pace.

A living legacy.

History was made in 1994 when the first democratic elections took place in South Africa, Nelson Mandela had the opportunity to vote for the first time in his life. The ANC won the

Nelson Mandela becomes president.

The quest for Presidency.

election and Nelson Mandela became the President of South Africa and the first democratically elected President of the country. He served 5 years and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki. His term in office effectively ends apartheid in South Africa and Nelson Mandela is made an iconic figure across the world. He received medals and honours including the renaming of Sandton Square in Johannesburg as Nelson Mandela Square.

Nelson Mandela had probably the biggest Birthday party on record when he turned 90, with celebrations taking place across the world.

There is more to the life of Nelson Mandela and I could go on for a lot longer than this article but I don’t want to bore you any more than I already have. I know this sounds like a premature obituary, but it isn’t intended to, I like to think of it as a celebration of a world leader, a man who means so much to so many people. I think a little bit of everyone will die when Nelson Mandela passes and if there was ever a man who deserves to live forever it is him.

With a life so full of memories, some of which are not so good, and a legacy which will outlive several generations to come I hope Nelson Mandela can finally rest in peace when the time comes.


By Emma Pollard.

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One Comment

  1. There is no point arguing that Nelson Mandela is one of the gsarteet leaders the African continent has produced in history. Here are some of Nelson Mandela’s best quotes:“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes 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”. I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses .“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried 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 only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” “One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” “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 overcome 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.” +4Was this answer helpful?

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