Born into the Xhosa royal family as Rolihlahla (‘troublemaker’) he was baptised a Methodist and named Nelson.
He trained as a lawyer, but from a young age was involved in the struggle for independence for the majority of people in South Africa, particularly when the white minority government introduced a stricter form of segregated society (apartheid) after the Second World War.
Mandela was a pragmatic politician with socialist leanings who kept in mind the need to allow South Africa to grow into a fair society for all its citizens while steering clear of destructive violence.
Although there was controversy around the figure of Nelson Mandela, there is no doubt about the good he achieved in the messy world of politics. How easy it would have been to seek retribution for so many years of racist oppression of non-white people in South Africa, and his own long years of imprisonment. Yet, he worked for reconciliation after his release and when in power as president. He forgave his oppressors.
However, he did not think that injustice should be swept under the carpet and set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate abuses of human rights.
In politics and in retirement he worked against poverty and the devastation caused by HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
1918: born in in Umtata, South Africa
Name: Rolihlahla Mandela
1944: Joined African National Congress
1960: Joint founder of “Spear of the Nation” ANC’s miliary wing.
1962: Arrested and sentenced to Life imprisonment.
1990: Released by President F.W de Klerk
1993: Awarded Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk for their efforts to end end apartheid.
1994: Elected President in South Africa’s first universal sufferage elections
2013: died in Johannesburg
There is no future without forgiveness”.Nelson Mandela
Wisdom 9:1-7: New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
‘O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word,
2 and by your wisdom have formed humankind
to have dominion over the creatures you have made,
3 and rule the world in holiness and righteousness,
and pronounce judgement in uprightness of soul,
4 give me the wisdom that sits by your throne,
and do not reject me from among your servants.
5 For I am your servant, the son of your servant-girl,
a man who is weak and short-lived,
with little understanding of judgement and laws;
6 for even one who is perfect among human beings
will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you.
7 You have chosen me to be king of your people
and to be judge over your sons and daughters.
Thought for the Day
How do we love our neighbour and future generations through our involvement in politics?
Bring Back Nelson Mandela by Hugh Masekela, recorded in 1987