Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Since his passing back in Thursday, December 6, 2013 aged 95 – will the world ever see another one like him?

By: Ringo Bones 

For those who were in high school at the time when every civilized nation in the world are condemning the injustice of South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation known as Apartheid, it seems like we all felt the pain first hand of the oppressed black South Africans. And the whole world had been rooting for Nelson Mandela who was back then serving a jail term in the notorious Robben Island prison. Sentenced to prison back in 1964 when the then white ruled South African government banned the ANC political party advocating for an end to Apartheid, the country became a virtual pariah state by incarcerating Mandela, not to mention a prison labor regime that involves breaking limestone in a sunlit glared quarry that damaged his eyes because the prison authorities didn’t allowed him to wear sunglasses. Other anti-Apartheid campaigners suffered terribly and some even died in prison like Steve Biko. Despite a series of economic and political sanctions by the international community as an anti-Apartheid campaign gesture, it seems that back in the 1980s, Apartheid would still be a part of South Africa until the 21st Century. 

After 27 years in prison Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990 and to prove that he was the better man, Mandela chose to reconcile with his captors to avoid plunging South Africa into a bloody civil war. Fortunately, his bold move for reconciliation led to a peaceful transition of political power and Mandela eventually shared a Nobel Peace Prize with his counterpart, the then President of South Africa, F.W. De Klerk. Mandela was then elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994 in the country’s first ever free elections where candidates of non white ethnicity were both allowed to run and vote. 

Nelson Mandela stepped down as he promised after serving a 5-year presidential term, unlike other notorious dictators elsewhere in the continent. Mandela continues as a guiding force and an inspiration not just for South Africans but also for everyone in the world fed up with injustice and oppression. He retired from the public eye back in 2004 but managed to appear during the 2010 World Cup due to insistent public demand and he even managed to meet visiting boxing icon Muhammad Ali. Though South Africans are still mired in economic equality, the dark days of Apartheid seems now a distant memory in the consciousness of most South Africans. During the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s passing, a biographical movie of his life titled Mandela Long Walk to Freedom that starred Idris Elba debut in London and instead of cancelling the screening, moviegoers decided instead to observe a moment of silence after the screening of the film.