Defining your freedom in Mandela’s Legacy

Article by Mandisa Chabwera (UWCAC 2015-2017)

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The life of Nelson Mandela has been the most fascinating phenomenon of this century and his struggle to free the children of South Africa from Apartheid had been his life’s goal. You are probably all familiar with Nelson’s moving and inspiring story, so I will try to address his character, his patience and wisdom that triumphed over brutal forces.

Nelson Mandela born in Mvezu, near Mthatha in the Transkei Eastern part of South Africa on July 18, 1918. He is commonly known to the South African People by the honorary title, Madiba, the name of the 18th century ancestor from whom his clan Thembu descended. When he went to University at Witwatersrand to study law he joined the African National Congress in 1943, founding the ANC Youth League with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, the following year. In 1952, he became one of the founders of the Youth League’s Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws, a programme of mass civil disobedience. His involvement in this led to his first Conviction.  Time passed and he eventually became a regular amongst the Police Force, so he often travelled in disguise and under fake names so as to evade the Police informers. On 16 December 1961, Spear of the Nation, a new military organisation, was set up and he was the commander of Chief. Over the next two years they would carry out 200 attacks and send 300 men abroad for military training.

Travelling out of the country with false papers in 1962, he was arrested and convicted for five years in prison at Robben Island and soon moved back to Pretoria to face charges with ten other defendants over Sabotage. The trial ended with eight of the accused found guilty including Mandela. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, marking what was the beginning of his prison life at Robben Island. In 1982, he was moved to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town and in December 1988 to Victor Verster prison in Paarl in the Cape Winnelands. After numerous refusals to be set free, he was granted freedom after 27 years on the 11 February 1990. His iconic speech at the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall and his triumphant show of “Amandla” (Power) was a defining moment for African History. Most of us tend to give up in life when a challenge hits us. Considering Nelson’s 27 years in prison, everyone thought he would stop his struggle towards segregation on the day of his release, yet he was determined to bring change to the civilians of South Africa. As humans we should all learn to be patient, this can even apply here at AC since times may be tough for us all and it’s definitely right not to give up and best to stick to our goals.

Nelson was an inspirational powerhouse for the children of South Africa and he made a difference for a lot of people in South Africa and Worldwide. AC is a great school that can change and develop us all to face the world out there and be a change maker. One great quote by Mandela: “the greatest Glory in living lies not in the failing, but in the rising every time we fall”.

He fell when he was sent to prison but personally he never gave up and he rose with a triumph that I and most people admire. We can be the change in our communities and societies even when it seems difficult. We can all learn from Nelson Mandela. WE CAN BE THE CHANGE.


One thought on “Defining your freedom in Mandela’s Legacy

  1. A great ambassador for the UWC movement. Nelson Mandela was and still is a champion for human rights activists worldwide. When he became Amnesty International ambassador of conscience his speech in Johannesburg referred to the lack of freedom when poverty exists. Nelson Mandela spoke wisely about one of today’s greatest humanitarian issues; one that the UWC movement does not address – contemporary slavery. In Jordan, where this serious breach of human rights is ignored there are endless reports about exploited workers in forced labour, forced prostitution and sex slavery, child marriage and an organised trade in young girls. This is happening within the territory of the UWC President, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan so wouldn’t it be appropriate for UWCs to address this issue? Further information may be obtained from the US State Department Report on Human Trafficking. (TIP Report)

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