He is known all over the world for
doing many remarkable things. He
promoted peaceful non-violent protests, became the first black president of
South Africa, and worked to achieve human rights for everyone in South Africa.
This man is Nelson Mandela and he was a big hero to many young and old people
all over the world. We have all heard his name before, but may not know exactly
what he did. Allow me to tell you the story and life of an outstanding hero of
our world, Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela was born on July 18,
1918 in Muezo, South Africa to his mother, Noqaphi Nusekeni, and his father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa.
His father was
the tribal chief of the Xhosa-speaking Tembu people. He had 6
sisters and 3 brothers as well. In his early life, he was set to become the
next chief of his town, but when his father died of tuberculosis, he was sent
to a Methodist Boarding School. There he was raised to become a strong
Christian. He returned to his village at the age of 16 years and participated in
a cultural ceremony marking the transition into adulthood.
In 1938, he wanted to begin a legal
and political career. He became a student at Fort Hare University. This
university was South Africa’s first university for blacks.
There he developed a friendship with another student, Oliver Tambo. They were
both expelled from the university in 1940 for taking part in a student protest.
However, Mandela continued to study law at Witwatersrand University. Not only
was he a college student but he also worked as a police officer and a miner
during that time to support himself. In 1942 he received his law degree.
In 1944 with the help of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, and
others, Mandela founded the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. This league strived to work against
the Apartheid System. The Apartheid
System racially classified people into four
groups. The groups were black, Indian, colored and white. This was a system in South Africa of
discrimination and segregation based on race.
A person’s race was determined by their ancestry, appearance, lifestyle
and socioeconomic status. The Apartheid
System dictated where one could work, live, socialize and use public services
based on race.
In 1952, Mandela was elected
president of the ANC. Four years later, he and 155 others were arrested for a
peaceful demonstration. The case went on until 1961, when Mandela was found not guilty. One year before the verdict, the
police had killed 70 protesters. These killings caused the ANC to be banned the
following days after the killings.
In August of 1962, Mandela was
arrested again after the police learned that he was running the ANC underground
outside of South African territory. He was found guilty and sentenced to life
in prison. While Mandela was in prison, everything that he had worked for
became known worldwide and his reputation grew over the years.
Mandela’s release from prison, in February of 1990 after 27 years, received
attention worldwide. The same year the de Klerk government in South Africa
dropped the ban on the ANC. Through 1990-1993 there were negotiations between
the ANC and other political parties to end the Apartheid System. In early 1991 they
successfully ended the Apartheid System. Nelson Mandela, the founder of the
ANC, was instrumental in allowing the country of South Africa to end racial
discrimination and bring peace. This also stimulated the fight for human rights
around the world. He was elected president of South Africa in 1994 and serviced
In 2001, Mandela was diagnosed with
prostate cancer. His health unfortunately continued to worsen. In July 2007, he
formed and announced The Elders. The Elders was a group that offered, “collective
influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes
of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.” He struggled
with recurring respiratory infections and was hospitalized many times. On
December 5, 2013, in Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Nelson Mandela
passed away. During a televised address that same day, South African President
Jacob Zuma said, “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Yet, what made
Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we
seek in ourselves.”
In conclusion, we can all consider
Nelson Mandela to be a hero. He ended racial discrimination in South
Africa. He promoted
human rights and ended violent protests. His worked earned him the 1993
Nobel Peace Prize. He turned South Africa into a democracy. He dedicated
his life to make South Africa and the entire world a better, more peaceful
place. There is only one word that can describe what he was, a hero.
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