Nelson Mandela

/ A Tribute to Nelson Mandela
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A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

Message from Nelson Mandela { "I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased, but when you combine the natural beauty of South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa's most splendid wildlife, then I think even the most scrupulous critic would agree that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to come and see for yourself the splendour of South Africa. I know that my people will be delighted to welcome you and I think you will be enchanted by their warmth and hospitality. I am equally sure that you will enjoy our culture, our cuisine and the warmth of our people." } Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, 1994-1999

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela on Ghandi

The Sacred Warrior, Nelson Mandela on Ghandi - Source: Time Magazine
Nelson Mandela wrote a wonderful article for the January 3, 2000 issue of TIME magazine. The issue celebrated People of the Century. Mandela wrote for TIME about one of his teachers, Gandhi. His story was called The Sacred Warrior.

Nelson Mandela on Gandhi: He dared to exhort nonviolence in a time when the violence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had exploded on us; he exhorted morality when science, technology and the capitalist order had made it redundant; he replaced self-interest with group interest without minimizing the importance of self. India is Gandhi's country of birth; South Africa his country of adoption. He was both an Indian and a South African citizen. Both countries contributed to his intellectual and moral genius, and he shaped the liberatory movements in ... [cont.]

He was both an Indian and a South African citizen. Both countries contributed to his intellectual and moral genius, and he shaped the liberatory movements in both colonial theaters. He is the archetypal anticolonial revolutionary. His strategy of noncooperation, his assertion that we can be dominated only if we cooperate with our dominators, and his nonviolent resistance inspired anticolonial and antiracist movements internationally in our century. Both Gandhi and I suffered colonial oppression, and both of us mobilized our respective peoples against governments that violated our freedoms.

The Gandhian influence dominated freedom struggles on the African continent right up to the 1960s because of the power it generated and the unity it forged among the apparently powerless. Nonviolence was the official stance of all major African coalitions, and the South African A.N.C. remained implacably opposed to violence for most of its existence.

Gandhi remained committed to nonviolence; I followed the Gandhian strategy for as long as I could, but then there came a point in our struggle when the brute force of the oppressor could no longer be countered through passive resistance alone. We founded Unkhonto we Sizwe and added a military dimension to our struggle. Even then, we chose sabotage because it did not involve the loss of life, and it offered the best hope for future race relations. Militant action became part of the African agenda officially supported by the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.) following my address to the Pan-African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) in 1962, in which I stated, "Force is the only language the imperialists can hear, and no country became free without some sort of violence."

Gandhi himself never ruled out violence absolutely and unreservedly. He conceded the necessity of arms in certain situations. He said, "Where choice is set between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence... I prefer to use arms in defense of honor rather than remain the vile witness of dishonor ..." Violence and nonviolence are not mutually exclusive; it is the predominance of the one or the other that labels a struggle.

Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 at the age of 23. Within a week he collided head on with racism. His immediate response was to flee the country that so degraded people of color, but then his inner resilience overpowered him with a sense of mission, and he stayed to redeem the dignity of the racially exploited, to pave the way for the liberation of the colonized the world over and to develop a blueprint for a new social order. He left 21 years later, a near maha atma (great soul). There is no doubt in my mind that by the time he was violently removed from our world, he had transited into that state.

No Ordinary Leader : Divinely Inspired: He was no ordinary leader. There are those who believe he was divinely inspired, and it is difficult not to believe with them. He dared to exhort nonviolence in a time when the violence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had exploded on us; he exhorted morality when science, technology and the capitalist order had made it redundant; he replaced self-interest with group interest without minimizing the importance of self. In fact, the interdependence of the social and the personal is at the heart of his philosophy. He seeks the simultaneous and interactive development of the moral person and the moral society.

His philosophy of Satyagraha is both a personal and a social struggle to realize the Truth, which he identifies as God, the Absolute Morality. He seeks this Truth, not in isolation, self-centeredly, but with the people. He said, "I want to find God, and because I want to find God, I have to find God along with other people. I don't believe I can find God alone. If I did, I would be running to the Himalayas to find God in some cave there. But since I believe that nobody can find God alone, I have to work with people. I have to take them with me. Alone I can't come to Him."

He sacerises his revolution, balancing the religious and the secular.

Awakening: His awakening came on the hilly terrain of the so-called Bambata Rebellion, where as a passionate British patriot, he led his Indian stretcher-bearer corps to serve the Empire, but British brutality against the Zulus roused his soul against violence as nothing had done before. He determined, on that battlefield, to wrest himself of all material attachments and devote himself completely and totally to eliminating violence and serving humanity. The sight of wounded and whipped Zulus, mercilessly abandoned by their British persecutors, so appalled him that he turned full circle from his admiration for all things British to celebrating the indigenous and ethnic. He resuscitated the culture of the colonized and the fullness of Indian resistance against the British; he revived Indian handicrafts and made these into an economic weapon against the colonizer in his call for swadeshi--the use of one's own and the boycott of the oppressor's products, which deprive the people of their skills and their capital.

A great measure of world poverty today and African poverty in particular is due to the continuing dependence on foreign markets for manufactured goods, which undermines domestic production and dams up domestic skills, apart from piling up unmanageable foreign debts. Gandhi's insistence on self-sufficiency is a basic economic principle that, if followed today, could contribute significantly to alleviating Third World poverty and stimulating development.

Gandhi predated Frantz Fanon and the black-consciousness movements in South Africa and the U.S. by more than a half-century and inspired the resurgence of the indigenous intellect, spirit and industry. Gandhi rejects the Adam Smith notion of human nature as motivated by self-interest and brute needs and returns us to our spiritual dimension with its impulses for nonviolence, justice and equality. He exposes the fallacy of the claim that everyone can be rich and successful provided they work hard. He points to the millions who work themselves to the bone and still remain hungry. He preaches the gospel of leveling down, of emulating the kisan (peasant), not the zamindar (landlord), for "all can be kisans, but only a few zamindars."

He stepped down from his comfortable life to join the masses on their level to seek equality with them. "I can't hope to bring about economic equality... I have to reduce myself to the level of the poorest of the poor."

From his understanding of wealth and poverty came his understanding of labor and capital, which led him to the solution of trusteeship based on the belief that there is no private ownership of capital; it is given in trust for redistribution and equalization. Similarly, while recognizing differential aptitudes and talents, he holds that these are gifts from God to be used for the collective good. He seeks an economic order, alternative to the capitalist and communist, and finds this in sarvodaya based on nonviolence (AHIMSA).

He rejects Darwin's survival of the fittest, Adam Smith's laissez-faire and Karl Marx's thesis of a natural antagonism between capital and labor, and focuses on the interdependence between the two. He believes in the human capacity to change and wages Satyagraha against the oppressor, not to destroy him but to transform him, that he cease his oppression and join the oppressed in the pursuit of Truth. We in South Africa brought about our new democracy relatively peacefully on the foundations of such thinking, regardless of whether we were directly influenced by Gandhi or not.

Gandhi remains today the only complete critique of advanced industrial society. Others have criticized its totalitarianism but not its productive apparatus. He is not against science and technology, but he places priority on the right to work and opposes mechanization to the extent that it usurps this right. Large-scale machinery, he holds, concentrates wealth in the hands of one man who tyrannizes the rest. He favors the small machine; he seeks to keep the individual in control of his tools, to maintain an interdependent love relation between the two, as a cricketer with his bat or Krishna with his flute. Above all, he seeks to liberate the individual from his alienation to the machine and restore morality to the productive process.

As we find ourselves in jobless economies, societies in which small minorities consume while the masses starve, we find ourselves forced to rethink the rationale of our current globalization and to ponder the Gandhian alternative.

At a time when Freud was liberating sex, Gandhi was reining it in; when Marx was pitting worker against capitalist, Gandhi was reconciling them; when the dominant European thought had dropped God and soul out of the social reckoning, he was centralizing society in God and soul; at a time when the colonized had ceased to think and control, he dared to think and control; and when the ideologies of the colonized had virtually disappeared, he revived them and empowered them with a potency that liberated and redeemed. [hide]

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Nelson Mandela's statement from the dock in the Rivonia Trial ended with these words.

Nelson Mandela

A Brief Biography of Nelson Mandela

Mandela's words, "The struggle is my life," are not to be taken lightly. Nelson Mandela personifies struggle. He is still leading the fight against apartheid with extraordinary vigour and resilience after spending nearly three decades of his life behind bars. He has sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains South Africa's best known and loved hero.

Nelson Mandela has held numerous positions in the ANC: ANCYL secretary (1948); ANCYL president (1950); ANC Transvaal president (1952); deputy national president (1952) and ANC president (1991) ... [cont.]

He was born at Qunu, near Umtata on 18 July 1918. His father, Henry Mgadla Mandela, was chief councillor to Thembuland's acting paramount chief David Dalindyebo. When his father died, Mandela became the chief's ward and was groomed for the chieftainship.

Mandela matriculated at Healdtown Methodist Boarding School and then started a BA degree at Fort Hare. As an SRC member he participated in a student strike and was expelled, along with the late Oliver Tambo, in 1940. He completed his degree by correspondence from Johannesburg, did articles of clerkship and enrolled for an LL.B. at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 1944 he helped found the ANC Youth League, whose Programme of Action was adopted by the ANC in 1949.

Mandela was elected national volunteer-in-chief of the 1952 Defiance Campaign. He travelled the country organising resistance to discriminatory legislation. He was given a suspended sentence for his part in the campaign. Shortly afterwards a banning order confined him to Johannesburg for six months. During this period he formulated the "M Plan", in terms of which ANC branches were broken down into underground cells.

By 1952 Mandela and Tambo had opened the first black legal firm in the country, and Mandela was both Transvaal president of the ANC and deputy national president. A petition by the Transvaal Law Society to strike Mandela off the roll of attorneys was refused by the Supreme Court.

In the 'fifties, after being forced through constant bannings to resign officially from the ANC, Mandela analysed the Bantustan policy as a political swindle. He predicted mass removals, political persecutions and police terror. For the second half of the 'fifties, he was one of the accused in the Treason Trial. With Duma Nokwe, he conducted the defense.

When the ANC was banned after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, he was detained until 1961 when he went underground to lead a campaign for a new national convention.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, was born the same year. Under his leadership it launched a campaign of sabotage against government and economic installations.

In 1962 Mandela left the country for military training in Algeria and to arrange training for other MK members. On his return he was arrested for leaving the country illegally and for incitement to strike. He conducted his own defense. He was convicted and jailed for five years in November 1962. While serving his sentence, he was charged, in the Rivonia trial, with sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

A decade before being imprisoned, Mandela had spoken out against the introduction of Bantu Education, recommending that community activists "make every home, every shack or rickety structure a centre of learning". Robben Island, where he was imprisoned, became a centre for learning, and Mandela was a central figure in the organised political education classes. In prison Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.

During the 'seventies he refused the offer of a remission of sentence if he recognised Transkei and settled there. In the 'eighties he again rejected PW Botha's offer of freedom if he renounced violence. It is significant that shortly after his release on Sunday 11 February 1990, Mandela and his delegation agreed to the suspension of armed struggle.

Mandela has honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities and is chancellor of the University of the North. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on 10 May 1994 - June 1999. Nelson Mandela retired from Public life in June 1999. He currently resides in his birth place - Qunu, Transkei. [hide]

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Address (10 May 1994)

This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by American Heritage Custom Books.

Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends: Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud. Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all. All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today ... [cont.]

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld. Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change. We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom

That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.

We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil. We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity. We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth, business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honorable F.W. de Klerk.

We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity--a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country, the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.

Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honor and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa! Thank you. [hide]

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A tribute to Nelson Mandela, a Great Man and Nobel Prize winner - South Africa's favourite Son
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