Nelson Mandela, a man who survived the most pressing trials of South Africa’s apartheid history, has passed away at age 95. Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa in 1994. In a special speech, President Barack Obama said that his very first political action was in protest to apartheid in South Africa, an effort inspired by Nelson Mandela.
Born in 1918, in the village of Mvezo, located in the hills of South Africa, he was born Rolihlahla Mandela. Mandela’s father passed away when he was 9 years old so he was raised by an African Trial Chief. Educated in the town of Quru, he was named “Nelson” by a former schoolteacher. As early as college, Mandela was punished for his activism. He was expelled from the University of College of Fort Hare for his participation in protest. He did manage to make a historical stride, however, opening South Africa’s first black-owned law firm with his colleague, Oliver Tambo.
An outspoken radical against apartheid, Mandela’s name was on America’s terror list until 2008 for his work with the African National Congress.
“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela’s first bout of court accusations came in 1956 when he was cited for treason. The trial, which lasted half a decade, led to his acquittal. Shortly thereafter, Mandela turned to underground militancy and military training in response to the dissolution of the African National Congress. The South African government would catch up with the leader once again in 1964 in the Rivonia trial in which he defended himself in a 4-hour speech.
Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He would serve 18 of those years at Robben Island prison, where he fought for the rights of his fellow prisoners. After serving 27 years, Mandela was released in 1990 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three years later alongside Former South African President F.W. de Klerk.
Then, in South Africa’s first open election, Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa in 1994. He served one term, retiring in 1999. He dedicated the remainder of his life to charitable work throughout the world.
Nelson Mandela has lived a life of struggle, exile, underground rebellion, and living under an alias to avoid location by the government. He has seen hundreds, even thousands, killed under the apartheid regime that plagued the blacks of his country for decades.
With his passing, he is survived by his third wife, Graca Machel, three children,17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
His legacy lives among the people of South Africa, in the words of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, in the 2009 film “Invictus” and the upcoming motion picture “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” starring actor Idris Elba, currently in theaters.
In the photo below, Tom Joyner reflects as he visits Robben Island prison, which held former South African President Nelson Mandela as an inmate for 18 years.
1. "It always seems impossible until it is done. "-Nelson Mandela
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2. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." -Nelson Mandela
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3. "Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." -Nelson Mandela
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4. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela
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5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." -Nelson Mandela
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6. "Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mind cannot be separated." -Nelson Mandela
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7. "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -Nelson Mandela
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8. "In my country we go to prison first and then become President." -Nelson Mandela
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9. "Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement." -Nelson Mandela
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10. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela
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11. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances."-Nelson Mandela
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12. "If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness & Forgiveness."-Nelson Mandela
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13. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."- Nelson Mandela
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14. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."-Nelson Mandela
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15. "I have retired, but if there's anything that would kill me is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do. "-Nelson Mandela
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16. "I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."-Nelson Mandela
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17. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another."-Nelson Mandela
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18. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."-Nelson Mandela
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19. "Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS."-Nelson Mandela
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20. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."-Nelson Mandela
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21. "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."-Nelson Mandela
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22. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."-Nelson Mandela
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23. "I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself."-Nelson Mandela
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24. "We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."-Nelson Mandela
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25. "I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."-Nelson Mandela
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26. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela
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27. "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."- Nelson Mandela
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28. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. "-Nelson Mandela
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29. "Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future."-Nelson Mandela
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30. "Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace. "-Nelson Mandela
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Continue reading Little Known Black History Fact: Nelson Mandela
30 Best Nelson Mandela Quotes
Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid icon died today, December 5, 2013. In honor of his life, his accomplishments and his sacrifices, we pay tribute to him. Here are just a few of his eloquent and thought provoking quotes.