Glory to the Indispensable MandelaDecember 7, 2013 | Print |
There are men who struggle one day , and are good
There are men who struggle for a year, and are better
There are men who struggle many years, and are very good
but there are those who struggle all their lives, these are indispensable .
– Bertolt Brecht
HAVANA TIMES – Many tribal religions celebrate a birth with mourning and death with song. They believe that human beings are born to struggle and find it sad. When they die, they believe that their souls rest and rise to another dimension, so they celebrate.
However, today all over the world, in addition to these customs and creeds, songs and tears mix. After almost a century of existence, an essential man has died.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died in Johannesburg on December 5th. Known in his country as Madiba, an honorary title bestowed by elders of Mandela’s clan and that means the man who made the miracle. He had an eventful and intense life.
Of the Xhosa ethnic group, Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Mvezo. He was one of thirteen children born to one of the four wives of Gadla Mphakanyiswa Henry (Henry Mgadla Mandela), a leading adviser to the royal house Thembu.
Orphaned at nine, he received primary education in a Wesleyan Mission (Methodist) followed by high school in the Healdtown Methodist Boarding School of Fort Beaufort. His teacher, a British missionary, gave him the Anglophone name Nelson, which became valid for legal purposes.
In 1939 he went to the city of Alice for his degree in law at the Fort Hare University College, an academic institution reserved for non-white students. In 1944 he joined the African National Congress (ANC), a movement of struggle against the oppression of black South Africans.
After the creation of the South African National Party in 1948, with its policy of racial segregation (Apartheid), Mandela became important within the ANC, in the civil disobedience campaign of 1952, and at the People’s Congress of 1955, in which the adoption of the Freedom Charter provided the main program in the case against apartheid.
In 1957 he separated from his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, with whom he had three children: a girl who died as an infant, his first born Madiba Thembekili, who died in 1969 in a car accident and Makgatho Mandela, a lawyer and businessman who died in 2005 of AIDS at the age of 54.
Committed to nonviolent methods of resistance, and following the inspiration of Gandhi, Mandela and 150 other colleagues were arrested on December 5, 1956 and sentenced to prison.
He was later convicted of sabotage and other charges, and given life imprisonment. He spent 27 years in prison, most of which confined in prison on Robben Island where he was prisoner number 466/64.
During those years, his wife Winnie symbolized the continuity of the struggle, reaching important positions in the ANC.
In 1988 Mandela was transferred to the Victor Verster prison, remaining there until his release and where various restrictions were lifted him.
Throughout Mandela ‘s imprisonment, local and international pressure on the South African government to release him were notorious.
After his release in February 1990, he led his party in the negotiations to achieve a multiracial democracy in their country. He won the election, becoming the first black president of South Africa. He governed from 1994 to 1999.
After 38 years of marriage to Winnie Madikizela (Winnie Mandela), he separated because of political scandals in April 1992 and finally divorced on March 19, 1996. With Winnie he had two daughters, Zenani (Zeni), born February 4, 1958, and Zindziswa (Zindzi), born in 1960.
On his 80th birthday, July 18, 1998, Mandela married Graça Machel, the widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and ANC sponsor who died in 1986.
He received more than 250 international awards over four decades. Prominent among them: Sakharov Prize (1988), Bharat Ratna (1990), Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation (1992), Isithwalandwe (1992), Nobel Peace Prize (1993), The Order of Merit of the United Kingdom (1995), Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International (2006), among others. Mandela also had more than 50 honorary doctorate degrees, awarded by universities around the world.
Respiratory disorders, a consequence of the cruel years in prison, were affecting the health of Madiba. Nevertheless, he achieved the miracle of immortality. He is one of the indispensable people of history.