I began to prepare this post for images only. But I needed to know what lead to life in prison. About the first half of his life.
An interesting paradox. An intensely tolerant, inclusive and compassionate man. Rightly celebrated as a great man of peace. He was also part of an armed revolutionary movement aimed at overthrowing an unjust government. Always a man ready to sacrifice his life in the pursuit of just treatment of his people, and all people.
“He was born into a royal house and there was always that sense about him of someone who knew the meaning of leadership.” – Ahmed Kathrada, friend and cellmate
He was affectionately called Tata Madiba. His given name was Rolihlahla Mandela, born in the region that encompasses what is now Cape Town in South Africa. He was born into the Thembu royal family. The name Nelson was given to him in school. Prophetically the name Rolihlahla means ‘troublemaker’ in Xhosa.
He was a fighter. Temperamental. Passionate. In his youth he was a boxer, activist and went on to become a lawyer. In 1952, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo opened the first black legal firm in South Africa. They provided legal aid for blacks, free legal aid for poor blacks, and became involved with the African National Council (ANC) defiance campaign. They fought poverty and oppression, a life calling.
Mandela came into prominence as a young lawyer in the 50s when he was elected President of the Transvaal ANC Branch and oversaw the 1955 Congress of the People which ended up drafting what became the manifesto of the African National Congress.
Working with the ANC Nelson Mandela’s apartheid efforts increased and he himself began to realise that passive resistance was not winning the fight. He called for armed resistance and sought military training in neighboring East African countries. Plans were made to bomb places of significance to apartheid, but these were always planned to avoid anyone being hurt or killed.
Nelson Mandela was subsequently arrested in 1962 on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government and sabotage. He was tried for treason and at one stage was acquitted. In 1964 though, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. http://www.nelsonmandelas.com/apartheid.php
He was 44 years old.
He was imprisoned on Robbin Island, a remote island that had been used as a holding place during the slave trade – guarded by men who had been indoctrinated that he was a dangerous terrorist. Rifles were pointed at him each time he was allowed outside. The guards carried no arms when escorting him for fears of being disarmed by him. He endured severe abuse.
In prison he focused temperamental, further cultivated patience, statesmanship, tolerance and inclusion. Mandela maintained dignity and poise, ironed uniform and impeccable posture. He was able to show the guards and the wardens that he was not a danger to them. He bore no animosity towards them. During his presidency he invited those same men to participate in events that were staged to unify the country. As he did with the previous apartheid government and it’s people.
We will mourn our collective loss of the person,
but remain the beneficiaries of his timeless gifts.
Apartheid was instituted in South Africa in 1948, in defiance of international law. People in South Africa were segregated into categories of white, black, Coloured, Indian (or Asian). In 1958 Blacks were deprived of their citizenship. There were separate schools, buses, shops and hospitals for blacks and coloured people and the services available were well under the standard provided for the minority whites. Even laws were different. A black man found raping a white woman for example could expect years in prison, whereas a white man raping a black woman would probably be charged a small fine.
“They can take everything except your mind and your heart. Those things I decided not to give away.” – Mandela
- Pope Francis Calls Nelson Mandela a Promoter of “Human Dignity” (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Obituary: Nelson Mandela (bbc.co.uk)