Guest Author - Lorraine E. Chavis
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. Nelson Mandela
Rolihlahla Dalibhunga, Nelson Mandela was, an accomplished South African lawyer and human rights activist and a formidable opponent to the South African government. Mandela, fought against South African apartheid and was beaten, jailed and silence for many years. While Mandela was still imprisoned he talked to President FW de Klerk. De Klerk, from the National Party or New National Party, was instrumental in manufacturing the end of apartheid and supporting the transformation process.
Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa, on July 18, 1918. He was the son of Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela was educated at the University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand. Mandela was qualified in law in 1942. In 1944, he joined the African National Congress in 1944. After 1948, the ANC engaged in resistance against apartheid. The ruling South African government put Mandela on trial for in 1956-1961. He was acquitted in 1961. In 1962, he was again arrested, charged with sabotage and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Mandela was then charged again while still in prison and re-sentenced to life in prison. Then South African, President FW de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC in 1990 and ended Mandela’s prison term.
At the end of his imprisonment, apartheid was ended. Black South Africans were given the right to vote and they overwhelmingly voted Mandela into presidential office. Mandela chose peace over revenge. He showed himself to have both a good head and a good heart in his dealings with white South Africans. In lieu of bloodletting Mandela coordinated the now famous South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was created by the Government of National Unity to deal with apartheid issues.
The South African ruling government denied Mandela the ability to grieve properly by not letting him attend the funerals of his mother or his eldest son. He lost 27 years of his life imprisoned for fighting for his rights and the rights of his people, but he showed no signs of bitterness. He only wanted peace. In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1999, Mandela stepped down as president of South Africa. He became an ambassador and fought against AIDS/HIV. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001, Mandela has stepped out of the public eye in order to spend more time with friends and family.
In 1992, Mandela divorced his wife, Winnie after she was convicted of kidnapping and accessory to assault charges. He remarried on his 80th birthday Graca Machel, a humanitarian and the first African to be a British dame. From royalty, to lawyer, to being sentenced to life in prison, to President of South Africa, Mandela lived as a price of integrity and grew into a king of dignity without losing grace. Mandela lived a life of hope without ever having any reason to believe except his faith. He won.