Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nelson Mandela

On the 18th of July Nelson Mandela will turn 90. We pay tribute to “Madiba” with a quote from Marianne Williamson - words often mistakenly attributed to Mandela himself. However, even though he might never have spoken these words in public he most certainly gave them energy and meaning by the very example of his own life.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party's apartheid policies after 1948. He was arrested several times. In 1963 Mandela was brought to stand trial along with other ANC leaders for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. He was to spend 27 years in prison as prisoner number 46664. Eighteen of these years were spent incarcerated at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town.

During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela's reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

Nelson Mandela was released on February 11, 1990. The following year he was elected President of the ANC. In 1993 he won the Noble Peace Prize. Following the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in April 1994 in which the ANC secured 62% of the popular vote, Mandela was inaugurated as the President of South Africa on 10th May 1994. He decided not to stand for a second term as President, and instead retired in 1999.

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