South Africa is synonymous with Nelson Mandela. Our late and former president was renowned for his role as a revolutionary leader who spent almost seven decades of his life in the struggle against white minority rule and for a free and democratic non-racial society. Mandela’s pre-eminence lies in the fact that he was a visionary, a democrat, and an international political leader who exercised his influence and leadership with humility and respect for his colleagues and opponents alike. He was, above all, a man stubborn in his resolve to fight all forms of discrimination, injustice and inequality.
It is no wonder, then, that in November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July Nelson Mandela International Day – in honour of his birthday. This is the first time that the United Nations has designated a day dedicated to a person. In line with the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the UN asked us all to set aside 67 minutes of our day on 18 July to do something that will contribute to bringing joy or relief to the millions of disadvantaged and vulnerable people of the world.
We know Mr. Mandela as a prominent member of the African National Congress. He spent 27 years of his life in prison: from 1964 till 1990. After his release, he and the then president, Mr. F. W. de Klerk, negotiated an end to apartheid. In 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa in the first multiracial elections in the country.
A List of Mandela’s Major Accomplishments
- He became the national president of the ANC Youth League in 1950.
- Mandela was a leading opponent of the 1948 apartheid legislation.
- He co-founded the first black legal partnership in South Africa.
- His speech during the Rivonia Trial is considered one of the great speeches of the 20th century.
- Nelson Mandela played the leading role in ending apartheid.
- Nelson Mandela was the first black President of South Africa.
- He focussed on national reconciliation during his presidency.
- He served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
- He founded several organizations to promote equality and fight problems like AIDS.
- Mandela received more than 260 honours during his life including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
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