Very few people can say they changed the world. Nelson Mandela is a spirit come and gone, brought here to this planet to demonstrate spiritual resolve in a hostile time. I recalled back in the 80, as a college student at Penn State, how we protested and demanded that the school break all relationships with South Africa until they abolished apartheid.
Today (2013) it seems like the obvious thing to do. However, back then in the US, race relations were just beginning to mend but had ways to go. While segregation as an institution was obviously illegal, there was not much interaction amongst the races. Great strides were made to heal race relations from Presidents Kennedy to Carter, but President Regan cut social and welfare programs that many black citizen relied on. The majority of whites did not seem to care, but there was obvious anger and distress amongst blacks. It did not help Regan when he vetoed the Anti-apartheid bill that would have condemned South Africa for its racist policies.
“If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”
Mandela on the other hand lived a life of struggle, but had fierce determination. For 27 years he was suffered inside the dungeons of a nation so racist that black prisoners were not allowed to eat with white prisoners. He was regarded as a terrorist along with the African National Council (ANC).
In 1990, racial tensions in South Africa grew at its peak. Clashes amongst blacks and whites resembled those once experienced in Alabama, Mississippi, and other states during the Jim Crow era. On televion the world viewed young black youths being shot to death before the cameras. The situation grew so bad, the world decided to enact economic sanctions. As a result, the country’s leaders had no choice but to free Mandela and hold multiracial election, in which Mandela was a candidate and victor for the ANC.
His intensions were not to re-create a nation for black superiority, but rather, to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. For 20 years, he championed a peaceful, non-violent defiance against the South African government and its racist policies. He convinced blacks to set aside their anger and hatred in order to live a better life for their children and future generations. He demonstrated his by hiring both blacks and whites to his cabinet, staff, and security. As a result, racial tensions subsided.
“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”
Because of his work, South Africa no longer carries the ugly reputation it once had. It is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and considered an industrialized country. Its economy is the largest and most developed in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world. The literacy rate, once benefited for the powered white population, is now 90% nationwide. There are talks that South Africa is a leading candidate to host the 2024 Olympic games.
Mandela was given over 250 high profile awards and honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin. By focusing on what is right, Mandela clearly demonstrated himself as a leader under the category as Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. His focus was the freedom and equality for an entire nation; for peace and forgiveness against former oppressors. For that South Africa thrives. What was once a world symbol of hate and intolerance, is now a model nation for togetherness and peace.
“I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.”