Lessons Learned from Nelson Mandela
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I want to dedicate this article for Nelson Mandela, a true leader
that has inspired me in so many ways.
On July, 18, 1918. A baby boy named Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Mvezo, a tiny village in the Transkei, a former British protectorate in South Africa. He then recalls growing up in the small village of Qunu. You may find “Rohilahla Mandela” unfamiliar, but yeah, I’m talking about Nelson Mandela, a statesman whose life and death inspire millions of people around the world. The one whose quest for freedom in South Africa’s system of white rule took him from the court of tribal royalty to the liberation underground to a prison cell to the presidency. The one whose memorial service was attended by more than 100 worlds leaders (or representatives) from all around the world and conducted in a huge football stadium in Johannesburg. The one that changed and contributed to shape today’s perspective of humanity, freedom, and forgiveness.
Nelson Mandela died on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at age 95 due to a lung infection. But his death is not just a significant historical event in our history, but for me personally, it’s a reminder of all the great things he has done in his life, and also a reminder of all the great values he has always been trying to construct in humanity all his life. Mandela is a freedom fighter, prisoner, moral compass and South Africa's symbol of the struggle against racial oppression who spent more than 27 years in prison to fight against a horrifying system that suffered the lives of black people in South Africa back then.
Now, what can we actually learn from Mr. Mandela? For me, it’s definitely his perseverance, commitment, hard work, compassion, and forgiving soul. Why? Because I think, what Mandela did in his life is truly unique. Let’s take a look for a while in his journey in the struggle of erasing apartheid in South Africa. On 1938, he attends University of Fort Hare where two years later he got expelled for leading a student protest. He then formed African National Congress Youth League on 1944. On 1956, Mr. Mandela was arrested at his home and charged with treason, along with 155 others who called for a nonracial state in South Africa. After that he went underground until he got sentenced to life in Robben Island prison in 1964. He went through a lot until in 1990, Mr. de Klerk lifted the ban on the A.N.C. and promised that Mr. Mandela will be released shortly. On February 11, 1990, Mandela was freed without conditions, ending 27 and a half years of imprisonment. And finally on April 27, 1994, A.N.C. wins majority in Election and Mandela became the first black president in South Africa, he also described voting for the first time as “a dream come true.”
Mandela’s life journey and his long incarceration for fighting against legalized racial segregation focused the world's attention on apartheid and touched millions of hearts. His struggle against apartheid shows to us that if we have a dream about something, no matter how hard the system is, if we have the true willingness within us, it’s never impossible to change anything that we want to change. Yes the road will never be easy, but it will be always worth it. Mandela’s message of reconciliation, not vengeance, inspired the world that fighting violence with violence is never a good idea, sometimes all you need is forgiveness to make things better. Like he said after he was freed in 1990, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” Even Obama said in his speech on Mandela’s death that “We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth." Yes, Mandela is not a saint and is not perfect, in fact, he was a man of complexities. But his perseverance, hard work and commitment made him the nation's conscience as South Africa healed from the scars of apartheid. He is also a true inspiration to the world that teaches us real values about what it takes to be real human.
May He Rest in Peace.