Nel­son Man­dela – a Trib­ute

Southasia - - TRIBUTE - –JA

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what dif­fer­ence we have made to the lives of oth­ers that will de­ter­mine the sig­nif­i­cance of the life we lead.”

When some 4,500 peo­ple, in­clud­ing for­eign dig­nit–aries, at­tended the burial of Nel­son Man­dela on De­cem­ber 15 at Qunu, a small ru­ral vil­lage in South Africa's East­ern Cape Prov­ince where Man­dela grew up, they wit­nessed the burial of an icon who had given so much to hu­man­ity with his ex­em­plary life.

Man­dela died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 De­cem­ber, 2013, at the age of 95.

It was a state fu­neral the like of which South Africa had never seen. The venue was en­gulfed in a som­bre mood as mourn­ers chanted "Liza­lise idinga lakho," mean­ing "Ful­fill your prom­ise, Lord." This was also one of Man­dela's favourite church hymns.

Lis­ten­ing to the tributes at the fu­neral were Graca Machel, his widow, and his sec­ond wife, Win­nie-Madik­izela Man­dela, who sat on ei­ther side of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

African Na­tional Congress mem­bers, vet­er­ans of the fight against apartheid and for­eign dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing sev­eral African pres­i­dents, Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu, the Prince of Wales and Oprah Win­frey were among the guests.

Nel­son Rolih­lahla Man­dela was a South African anti-apartheid revo­lu­tion­ary, politi­cian, and phi­lan­thropist who served as Pres­i­dent of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

He was South Africa's first black chief ex­ec­u­tive and the first per­son to be elected in South Africa through a fully rep­re­sen­ta­tive demo­cratic elec­tion. His life’s strug­gle was di­rected at do­ing away with the evil of apartheid and he achieved his goal by re­lent­lessly work­ing against racism,

– Nel­son Man­dela

poverty and in­equal­ity and fos­ter­ing racial rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. He served as Pres­i­dent of the African Na­tional Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997 and also as Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Non-Aligned Move­ment from 1998 to 1999.

Man­dela served over 27 years in prison, ini­tially on Robben Is­land and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Vic­tor Ver­ster Prison. Fol­low­ing a hard-hit­ting in­ter­na­tional cam­paign that lob­bied for his re­lease, Man­dela fi­nally came out in 1990 and was in­vited by F. W. de Klerk, South Africa’s white pres­i­dent, to join him in abol­ish­ing apartheid and to go for mul­tira­cial elec­tions in 1994.

In these elec­tions, Man­dela led his ANC to vic­tory and was asked to be­come South Africa's first black pres­i­dent.

He called his gov­ern­ment the Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Unity and in­vited sev­eral other po­lit­i­cal par­ties to join the cabi­net. He also cre­ated the well-known Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate past hu­man rights abuses.

Man­dela’s ad­min­is­tra­tion also in­tro­duced mea­sures to en­cour­age land re­form, com­bat poverty and ex­pand health­care ser­vices.

The No­bel Peace Prize for 1993 was awarded jointly to Nel­son Man­dela and Fred­erik Willem de Klerk for their work for the peace­ful ter­mi­na­tion of the apartheid regime and for lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a new and demo­cratic South Africa;

In Septem­ber 1998, Man­dela was ap­pointed Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the Non­Aligned Move­ment, which held its an­nual con­fer­ence in Dur­ban. He used the event to crit­i­cize the "nar­row, chau­vin­is­tic in­ter­ests" of the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment in stalling ne­go­ti­a­tions to end the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict and urged In­dia and Pak­istan to ne­go­ti­ate an end to the Kash­mir con­flict, for which he was crit­i­cized by both Is­rael and In­dia.

Nel­son Man­dela stepped down in 1999 af­ter one term as Pres­i­dent. He con­tin­ued to work with the Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s Fund he had set up in 1995 and es­tab­lished the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion and The Man­dela Rhodes Foun­da­tion. Oth­er­wise, he sought a quiet fam­ily life that was di­vided be­tween Johannesburg and Qunu.

In the death of Nel­son Man­dela, the world has be­come all the poorer be­cause we have lost an ex­cep­tional leader. Man­dela’s lifelong strug­gle for hu­man rights has no par­al­lel – it was an epic strug­gle against racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion. He was deeply ded­i­cated to hu­man dig­nity and bridged peace and di­a­logue by pay­ing a heavy per­sonal price for it with his strug­gle.

Nel­son Man­dela has left an in­ef­face­able legacy for the world and has en­graved his life’s strug­gles in the saga of world his­tory for all times to come.

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