Nelson Mandela was born the son of a Tambo trial chieftain, on July 18, 1918, at Qunu near Umata, in apartheid enclane of South Africa.
He renounced his and privilege to succeed his father and instead chose a political career. Mandela attended college and a Bachelor’s Degree holder in Arts and practiced as an Attorney in Johannesburg for number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo turned a layer, joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and helped found its powerful Youth League.
In 1962, he was arrested by South African Security Police, here, one would be eager to know the reason behind his arrest opposition to the White Government and its apartheid.
On June 11, at the conclusion of the trial, Mandela was found guilty on four charges of Sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He began his sentence in the notorious Robben Island PRision a maximum security prison on a small Island off the coast near Cape Town. A worldwide campaign to free Mandela began in 1980s and resulted in his release on February 11, 1990, at age 71, after 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela shared the Noble Peace prize with South African’s President F. W. de Klerk for their peaceful effort to bring a non-racial democracy to South Africa.
Black South Africa voted for the first time in the 1994 election and Mandela emerged the first black president of South Africa.
Refereeing to Mandela’s statement from the dock at the opening of his defence in the 1964 trial, he was a convicted prisoner for living the country without permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961; at the outset, he said that the struggle in South Africa was under the influence of forgivers or communist is wholly incorrect. “I have done whatever I did both as an individual and as a leader of my people, because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsiders have said” he told the court. In his youth, in the Trabnskei he has listened to the elders of his tribe telling stories of the old days, which amongst the tales related to him were those of wars fought by their ancestors in defence of the fatherland.
He hoped them that like might offer him the opportunity to serve his people and make his own humble contribution to their freedom and struggle, which has motivated him in all he have done in relation to charges made against him.
Mandela said that he did not, however, deny that the planned Sabotage, that he did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because he have any love of violence, he stated boldly “I planned it as a result if calm and Sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people my people by the white”.
He admitted immediately that he was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we sizewe, and that he played a prominent role in its affair until it was arrested in August 1962.
Umkhonto was believed to have been organized for two reasons: First, they believed as a result of Government Policy, violence by the Rican people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalized and control the feeling of their people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of the country which is not produce even by war. Secondly, they felt that without violence there would be no way open to the people of African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing to the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing to the principle have been closed by legislation, and they were placed in a position in which they have either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the Government. They choose to defy the law; they first broke the law in a way which avoided any resources to violence; when this form was legislated against and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did they decide to answer violence with violence.
According to Mandela, the violence which they choose to adopt was not terrorism and those who formed Umkhonto were al members of the African National Congress (ANC), and guided by the principle of non-violence and preferred negotiation as a means of solving political disputes.
ANC was formed in 1912 to defend the right of the African people which had been seriously curtailed by the South Africa Act, and which were then being threatened by the Native Land Acts. In 1960, the Government held a referendum which led to the establishment of the Republic. Affairs, which constituted approximately 70 percent of the population of South Africa, were not entailed to vote, and were not even consulted about the purposed constitutional change. All of them, both Mandela were apprehensive of their future under the proposed White Republic, and a resolution was taken to hold an All-In African Conference to call for a National Convention, and to organize mass demonstrations on the eve of the unwanted Republic; if the Government failed to call the convention.
The conference was attended by Africans of various political persuasions. Mandela was the secretary of the conference and undertook to be responsible for organizing such a strike if necessary.
He became a hunted target of Authority, and consequently had to abandon his home, family and his practice and go into hiding to avoid arrest
It should be noted that the political atmosphere had been militarized and violence had, in fact became a feature of the South African Political Scene. There had been violence since 1957 when the women of zeerust were ordered to carry passes; There was violence in 1958 with the enforcement in the 1959 when the people of Cato manor protested against pass raids; and several other violence in the country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic and wrong for African Leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the government met their peaceful demand with force. This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had barred to them, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we sizewe, which have it in the manifesto published on 16, December 1961, they said: “The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we shall have no choice but to hit had by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom”
In apartheid South Africa, it was a crime for the black to walk through the white-only door, a crime to ride on a fountain, a crime not to have a passbook; life and living were hellish for black people. This is where Mandela said that fear cannot be allow way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for ai, and ten fought against black domination.
Cherishing the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities, Mandela said it is an ideal which he hope to live for and achieve, and for this, he said he was “prepare to die”.
Fate and divine providence have paradoxically ensured a deserved longevity, enabling Mandela to live long enough to actualize his dream as the whole world joined in celebrating his 90th birthday.
Last December, a twitter message went around, announcing the passing of the world’s most beloved grandfather and leader then followed, a month later, frenzied reports of his hospitalization. Family, friends and the media besieged the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, just in case, it was not to be. Perhaps the Old Man would prefer to go quietly. The drama of his hospitalization brought into sharp focus the inevitable, and what will transpire afterwarps. Who is present when passes was very important. Which media would get the gold medal for being the first to tell world was something to die for. Now, with reports of his frail state making the rounds again, it may not be very long before he makes his long walk into the unknown. It could be sudden. When gone, South Africa, Africa, and the world will be left the power, to ponder his massive legacy. Mandela will be 93 years old on 18th of July 2011. Very few people in history have captured the world’s imagination like he has warts and all. He has stated the world’s moral bankruptcy in the face and won, in the process inspiring many.
“Resentment,” he says, “is like drinking poison, and expecting it to kill your enemy.
“So he forgives those who had incarcerated him and taken away 27 years of his life. That has been what has largely defined the man. A “terrorist” turned saint, who embraced his enemies and tried to bridge a racial divided. It is work still in progress. He reminds the world still in progress. He reminds the world of a common humanity that has often been forgotten in the pursuit of personal and group interest, defined by race, ethnicity, colour, creed, sexual orientation, religion, geography, language and all the factionalism that plagues the earth.
He has his faults, but here is a man who has striven relentlessly towards the ideal of a common humanity – to the extent where it is almost blasphemy to cast stones at him or, …hint at his morality, morality or both. Such is his magic- what is popularly known as the Mandiba magic (Madiba is his clan name). “I am not a saint,” Madiba insists, “unless you want to say a saint a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Last year, a painting of the cadaver of the great man, on a coroner’s table, with Mahatma Ghandi and others looking on, met with an angry reaction in South Africa. It was called unAfrican, in that it was like wishing him dead, a thought too ghastly to contemplate. It has been report that the right to broadcast his funeral was sold long ago for the sum of R3m (300,000 Euros) to the South African Broadcast corporation. But this has been vehemently denied, who has stepped into Mandela’s shoe as chief of mvezo traditional area. He are thus assumed the mantle of leader and spokesman for the Mandela family. However, those close to the Old Man have been preparing for the inevitable, to the extent where fashion designers have kept busy. Already there is intense positioning to cash in on his immense legacy. The players are many, eyeing the political and economic picking that go with a global brand worth millions of dollars.
Five years ago, an unsavoury legal battle raged between the Old Man and his one trusted lawyer, Ismael Ayob, a dress rehearsal of what is yet to come. In a long-running dispute, Ayob, who acted for Mandela when he was in jail on Robben Island, and businessman Ross Calder allegedly cashed in on unauthorized copies of art beating Mandela’s signature.
Given Old Man want to court so stop there from selling the artwork and demanded the account to large sum of money collected through sales. “All the money went to the family,” Ayob asserted, referring to the Mandela Trust, a private fund administered by Mandela’s children.
Given Mandela’s role as a unifier, the irony is that the battle over his legacy has develop into a multi-faceted campaign between factions, which could be stretched to mean “family” (in quotation marks) are many. They range from the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation movement and now party to which he dedicated most of his life, the various foundations and charities he set up after his retirement in 1999, as well as political comrade and business associate with who he forged relations over many years, especially the Robben Islands graduates, and his biological family.
As the campaign over his legacy heats up, his large extended family from his three marriages have sought to set the record straight. There is the family of his first wife. Evelyn Mase, who carried him in his developmental stage. Then that of Winnies Mandela during the hard knocks of his developmental stage. Then that of Winnies Mandela during the hard knocks of his political mid-life. And finally, Graca Machel, ex-wife of the deceased expresident of Mozambique, Samora Machel, who has been by his side during his twilight years. The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all proudly bear Mandela’s name, irrespective of who their fathers are.
The past few years have been made up of a tug of war and angry words among the ANC, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Biological Family with Chief Mandla Mandela acting as the spokeson. Within the Biological Family itself, there are deep divisions with respect to who has first rights to his legacy.
Last year, ‘was a glittering launch of the exclusive Hausa of Mandela Wines at a plush hotel in Sandon, Johannesburg. It was a “First Family” after (Le., conducted by Dr. Makaziwa Mandela, the sole surviving child from Mandela’s union with Evelyn Mase, his first wife).
The grandson from that linage, Chief Mandla Mandela, was in attendance. The wine launch asserted who was in charge of the Mandela Family, and the brand. Well-heeled invites shaped up the wines, as an investment when Mandela dies. A recent bizarre incident of politicking occurred with the case of Julius Malema, the president of the ANC Youth League campaigning in local government elections set for 18 May, he told voters that if they do not vote for the ANC, it would affect the health of the Old Man, suggesting that they would be contributing to Mandela’s demise.
Previously, in the run-up to the last presidential elections in 2009, Mandela, in a very frail condition, was bundled into a private aircraft and wheeled to an ANC rally in the Eastern Cape, Big Brother ANC needed his blessings. This led to an angry war of words among the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the ANC, and the Biological Family.
Sometimes the combative Winnies Madikizela-Mandela has weighed in. Ata pre-Fifa World Cup 2010 rally in Johannesburg, she quoted Mandla Mandela: “As a family we are united in that the legacy of Madiba belongs to his family first and to the ANC”. Despite their divorce and its acrimonious personal and political fallout at the time, Winnies carried a message on behalf of “Tata” (father), and told the crowd that Tata wanted the trophy to stay in Africa. Mandela has been hard at work in the protection of the family name. He has been at the centre of a bitter feud with he Nelson Mandela Museum over plans to protect the Old Man’s birthplace as a heritage site and accused it, along with the Mandela Aids Project, 46664, named after his prison number – of “benefiting and profiting from my grandfather’s name”.
“They give nothing to his people”, Mandela claimed. “Mandela’s people are dying here in Mvezo) from aids, yet 46664 have done nothing here”. He has a point.
When Mandela dies, of great concern is any fallout there may be from potentially acrimonious battles among the facings. This will be reminiscent of the ongoing war over the legacy, of another black icon, Martin Luther king, more than 40 years after his death.
Is there a will? Apparently there have been few of them drawn up over the years, but changed from time to time to reflect changing circumstances. A final one will be even more contentious, as age has incrementally and natural taken as toll on his mind. The hope is that, somehow, there will be a resolution, and that his death will not spawn undignified court battles over his legacy. When the inevitable happen ultimately, when Mandela dies, his legacy will be moral polities. In South Africa where he sacrificed a life to liberate his people and steer them to a yet unrealized promised land, he is a defining figure revered by both blacks and whites. The politics he left behind has however taken a turn for the worse.
He delivered a political kingdom and not an economic one. That was not his promise.
So economic apartheid reigns supreme, where the overwhelming number of blacks he helped liberate are yet to see the milk and honey, with the exception of a few elitist managers of his political kingdom who have immorally cashed in. previous white manager of the politic/economic kingdom are no different, except theirs has been racial capitalism in the new dispensation, they have become the defenders of white privilege, and forged relations with the new political power to entrench that privileged. No wonder 95% of the economy remains in 11% of white hands. The heirs of Mandela’s political liberation now drink white champagne they do not produce, wear imported Gucci’s and eat Sushi.
Now the legacy of Mandela’s politics is far becoming money, where people go into politics to open up economic opportunities that will enrich family and friends.
Dissatisfaction withy the status quo on the part of the down-trodden has expressed itself at the municipal level in service delivery protects mixed with xenophobia which have often turned very violent. In a recent protest in a town called Ficksburg in mid-April, a protester was beaten to death, allegedly by the police. A few such incidents would definitely spark a Tunisian-style revolution so feared by the elite here.
Meanwhile, it is election time for local government, and politicians in luxury German cars travel the land in their desperate attempt to entrench their political and economic power for family and friends. After the election, they will disappear from the squatter camps.
In Africa, on the Africa continent, Mandela, though revered will not be known the way Kwame Nkrumah Kaunda, Julius Nyerere or even Bob Marley are his Pan-African credentials are nebulous. That mantle has been taken by his successor Thabo Mbeki. As president, Mandela was overly consumed with building a new non-racial South Africa, bridging a black/white divide, and as a result he had less time for African affairs.
When he once tried to intervene in Nigeria, the infamous General Sanni Abacha, then leader of the country, reminded him of his place on the continent, and the huge sacrifice Africa and Nigeria has made in liberating South Africa.
Abacha cancelled the participation of the Nigerian national football team in the landmark 1996 African Cup of Nations tournament that took place in South Africa. Nigeria was the defending champions! It was a slap in the face which Mandela never recovered from. It is on the international front outside Africa that Mandela has made the most impact.
His participation forgiveness of white South Africa and his reconciliation project has played well in the consciousness of the Western establishment. To them, Mandela is a saint.
Ultimately, ‘his legacy to the world is encoded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu, with its idea of a shared humanity of all human beings and races. It will be about lessons in transcending the pettiness of men and nations. A lesson on how no rise above the stupidities that infect the earth, and live together as one, he lived it.
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