The first-ever black president of South Africa, and the icon who stood against apartheid with all his might, passed away on December 5, 2013 in Johannesburg at the age of 95. He was under treatment for a severe and prolonged lung infection and died at his home at 8.50 p.m. local time on Thursday night.
National leaders and citizens from all across the globe mourn Nelson Mandela who was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and stood as a symbol of resilience and principle, inspiring many to follow the path integrity, after serving prison for 27 years.
Mandela was first admitted to the Pretoria hospital in June for the treatment of a recurring lung infection where he spent three month under treatment, returning home to live with his loved ones.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced that a full state funeral will be accorded for Mandela since for many South Africans he was and will always be the father of the nation.
Nelson Mandela was a beloved and cherished hero not just in South Africa but all over the world as well. Films were made on his life, songs were written about him, stamps were created with his likeness and statues were erected in his honor in different regions across the world when he finally became the first black South African President, defeating the racial rule that had gripped the country.
Mandela was born in a village near Umtata on July 18, 1918, son of the primary councilor to the Acting Paramount Chief of Thembuland. After his father died when Mandela was 9, he became the chief’s ward and went to a local mission school. Named Rolihlahla at birth, Mandela was given the English name ‘Nelson’ by a primary school teacher.
He attended one of the most prestigious colleges in South Africa, the University College of Fort Hare but was expelled after he was involved in a student boycott. To avoid an arranged marriage he ran away from Johannesburg and eventually finished his degree through corresponding courses. He studied law and in 1942 joined the African National Congress (ANC).
It was there when his struggle against the South African government began, which was totally made up of white minority ruling over blacks. For the first 20 years, Mandela led a non-violent revolutionary campaign in the country but later switched to armed struggle. This was the time when the US government labeled him as a terrorist and he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.
During his entire prison time, he stood by for what he was fighting for; the independence of his people. The year after he was released from prison, he became the elected president of ANC. In the following years, he won the Nobel Peace Prize and became the first black president of South Africa, doing everything that was possible for the welfare of people in his country. After he retired as president, he became an advocate for many human rights organizations.
Nelson Mandela a man who stood for the most basic rights for his people; freedom, and overcame all odds to achieve it.