On Mandela's 101st birth anniversary, a look back
25 years in jail could not break Nelson Mandela's spirit. He emerged triumphant in the end
“Eradicating poverty is not an act of kindness; it is an act of righteousness. It is the act of protecting the fundamental right of man...”
In his autobiography, written secretly at night in Robben Island, a prison camp in South Africa, Nelson Mandela spoke eloquently about his childhood memories.
“I was not born with the desire for freedom. I was born free. I was independent in every way. I roamed freely in the fields close to Mother Nature. I swam in the free streams ... We ate food in the starlight. We fed the cows. But it was only when I became a teenager that I sensed my childhood freedom was an illusion. I only realised it later... I started to fight for freedom.”
Mandela, who grew up listening to stories of war heroes as a child, made up his mind that his life would revolve around this struggle.
Born into an affluent family, Mandela went on to study at Fort Hare University. This is where Mandela saw his first action. Mandela joined the protest against the injustice done to black students inside the university campus. He was suspended for his trouble by the university.
Mandela, who was by then very active in the youth movement of the South African National Congress, started to gain fame.
In 1948 a nationalist state elected by whites came to power. Those who took office directly justified the injustices against black people, instituting the apartheid regime.
The African National Congress leaders were on the backfoot, but Mandela said in a decisive voice: “This is very good for us”
"Yes. The positive thing. ”
“We now know who our enemies are. We know who we have to fight to get justice.”
For the next 50 years, the black people had to struggle for justice in the way that Mandela showed. Mandela must have already known the trouble he was going to face. But he felt that freedom for his people was the most precious thing in the world, and that its price would be blood and death.
Having devoted himself to public life, Mandela was not overly concerned about his home life. This broke up his first marriage. But he had no time to worry about it.
On his divorce, Mandela convened a large gathering on behalf of the 1955 African National Congress. The ruling whites enacted the famous apartheid law, legally sanctioning injustice against black people.
The people were hugely agitated. Mandela and the African National Congress led a massive protest, and in 1956, Mandela was imprisoned by the government.
In 1960, the police opened fire on a peaceful black gathering in the small village of Sharpeville. Thousands were injured; 66 people died.
Enraged by this massacre, Mandela took to the streets. He also promoted an armed struggle. The white government suppressed the struggle with an iron hand.
Mandela was again jailed in Robben Island on the southern tip of South Africa. The 45-year-old Mandela would spend not one or two years here, but the next 25 years there. He was Prisoner No. 466.
But he was unbowed; when he finally prevailed and won the struggle against apartheid, and became the first president of a new republic, he proved to the world the power of the will to overcome. Draconian rules, such as a prohibition on writing in prison, ban on speaking, and not being allowed to meet anyone, did not deter him. Mandela ultimately showed that the idea of freedom is stronger, and could triumph over any repression that a government could unleash.
[Autotranslated from Tamil]