Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician. He was a freedom fighter, statesman, moral compass, and South Africa’s symbol of the struggle against racial oppression. He is held in deep respect within South Africa where he was the first black President and is often described as “the father of the nation”.
He gained international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received more than 250 honors, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela died following a long illness on December 5th, 2013 at his home in Johannesburg. Our choices for the top 10 important moments in his life.
The Day Nelson Mandela Walked Out Of Prison
Photo credit to npr.org
Back in 1964, history had begun. Nelson Mandela was charged with treason, sabotage, and violent conspiracy with a life sentence attached to it. A young man back then in his early 40’s and an ex-boxer himself, Mandela spent the next 27 years behind bars. Although a controversial figure back in his hay days, one might say that his special prison treatments, not those of great men, were despicable. After 27 long years of constant prison bullies, soon to be president Nelson also suffered from prison injuries “unknown to the public” until the release of his book. He then went on to become president on the 10th of May 1994 until his official retirement 5 years later on June 16th, 1999. He died on December 5th, 2013.
Mandela During The Second Day of his U.S. Tour in 1990
Photo credit to dailymaverick.co.za
On the second day of Mandel’s visit, he attended a congressional black caucus breakfast and became the third private citizen to address a joint session of congress. To quote, Nelson Mandela, still officially on the terror watchlist of the U.S, said: “our country, which continues to bleed and suffer pain, needs democracy. We fight for and visualize a future in which all shall, with regard to race, color, creed or sex, have the right to vote”. From Boston, Massachusetts, he then went on touring Atlanta, where he visited the tomb of Martin Luther King placing a wreath.
Nelson Mandela’s Colorful Attire
Photo credit to voanews.com
This is most definitely worth a top 10 as clothing has, after all, a silent way of expressing oneself. Under normal circumstances, politicians from all over the world will tend to suit up with perhaps a colorful tie unifying their government’s party. However, Nelson Mandela has always and literally warned South African clothing on his sleeves and is best known for his Madiba Shirts. It was for him a symbol of who he was as a proudly South African himself. It expressed, you are who you are, be proud of yourself. And proud he was and adored by his people and other peoples from all over the globe.
Nelson Mandela at the 1995 Rugby World Cup
Photo credit to theguardian.com
On the 24th June 1995, Nelson Mandela casually walked on the Rugby World Cup field for the finals in Johannesburg where he wore South African colors bringing the overwhelmingly white crowd to its feet. The crowd repeatedly kept on chanting “Nelson, Nelson, Nelson” as he congratulated the winning home team in a moment that symbolized racial reconciliation. That day, Nelson decided to wear the national Springbok emblem once hated by the black community. This conveyed a message to all, that rugby was now for all South Africans after being rejected by blacks. A beautiful moment between Mandela and the then captain Francois Pienaar.
Nelson Mandela at the 2010 World Cup
Photo credit to theguardian.com
On the 11th July 2010, Nelson Mandela was seen smiling and waving at the crowd at the Johannesburg Soccer City stadium at the closing ceremony of the World Cup. He shined on the biggest world stage allowing the country and the continent itself to be part of this historical moment. Although the ex-president looked frail, he managed to wow the crowd and had thundering responses from them. His presence was, unfortunately, a couple of hours after the death of his grand-daughter in a car accident. He insisted and battled his way to the stadium though not missing the opportunity to reconcile all colors, nations, and everyone watching on television all possible differences and left a mark in everyone’s hearts.
Nelson Mandela’s First Democratic Vote
Photo credit to sahistory.org.za
The 24th of April 1994 marked a very special day indeed, the first-ever democratic election in South Africa. It changed the entire South African history from henceforth. 19 political parties participated in this unique state event after over 22 million voters queued up to cast their vote. The atmosphere was electrifying, blessed with optimism for so many people from so many different backgrounds but with the same goal in mind. Being part of history and rewriting its course into a new era.
Mandela Become The First Black President in South Africa’s History
Photo credit to syracuse.com
After spending a third of his life in jail as a political prisoner, 27 years to be exact, the first-ever black man becomes president of his country – South Africa. The lovingly called “the father of the nation”, Nelson Mandela rewrote history as it happened after 22 million people cast their vote. As he quoted, “The time for the healing of the wounds has come”. 5 years later he went on to retire as he began his 80’s and was one of the most respected active elder statesman until the early 2000s.
Nelson Mandela Visits Bill Clinton at the White House as the First Black President of South Africa
Photo credit to politico.com
Nelson Mandela remarkably had so many incredible moments in his life both in and out of prison. The human rights icon met with Bill Clinton, the then president of the U.S, and somewhat coincidently, assisted Clinton with his sex allegation and stood by his side mentioning that morality does not allow us to desert our friends even though politically they did not always agree. Nevertheless, the 2 remained good and steady friendship throughout the years.
Mandela and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on the First Day of a State Visit to Britain
Photo credit to reuters.com
Although a complex bond and relationship with the former colonial ruler, Great Britain, in 1996 saw the apparition of Mandela in the heart of London and specifically, visiting Queen Elizabeth II. Upon their encounter, the Queen paid tribute to the South African President regarding his achievements during his presidency. She especially mentioned his efforts in smashing apartheid and bringing peace, reconciliation, and democracy to his country. Mandela was given a full, red carpet treatment by his British hosts with a former welcoming party bearing all the traditional pomp and ceremony befitting a visiting head of state.
Surprise Appearance on Stage at the Concert of Johnny Clegg
Photo credit to timesofisrael.com
We left a little something really rather powerful with the surprise visit from Nelson Mandela, having gatecrashed a bit of a party. Asimbonanga was the opening song from Johnny Clegg literally translating to “we have not seen him” naturally referring to Mandela. During the song performance, Johnny had the President himself doing his famous jive with his award-winning smile. He even took over the mike and said a few words leaving the audience in awe – perhaps one of the most fortunate audience ever.