In 2013, former South African President, freedom fighter and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela died at 95. The political icon was battling a recurring lung infection, and had a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He had been in frail health for several years.
South African President Jacob Zuma announced:
“He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”
His birthday, July 18th, will be recognized around the world as Nelson Mandela Day.
The anti-apartheid leader was a beloved figure around the world, and a symbol of reconciliation from a country with a brutal history of racism. Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after the first all-race elections in 1994 brought an end to apartheid.
In 1962, he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison from 1964 to 1982, spending many of those years at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. Mandela served 27 years in prison from 1964 to 1982, spending many of those years at Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town. It is this imprisonment that has been linked to the multiple health problems he’d suffered over the years.
In 1994, in a historic election, Mandela became the nation’s first black leader. He stepped down in 1999 after a single term and retired from political and public life.
More recently, he had mostly been absent from the political scene for the past several years due to poor health. However, he continued to receive high-profile visitors, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Mandela’s funeral was watched by people all over the world. Now, from schools to programs all over the nation named after him, Mandela’s legacy of fighting back and standing up for what’s right continues to live on.
Here are some of his most revered quotes:
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”