When speaking of freedom fighters, a famous personality that comes to mind is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Widely known for his human rights activism, Mandela is a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize as well as 250 other honorary awards and accolades that he received for his commendable human rights achievements in South Africa. Born and raised in Transkei, Nelson Mandela mainly grew up in the times of apartheid.
Mandela can be chiefly credited with bringing about the apartheid’s end that took place in South Africa. Throughout his early life, Mandela actively participated in political organizations that opposed the white minority influence which had deprived black people of their social, economic and political rights. As a prominent member of the African National Congress whose aim was to fight for black people’s equality at that time and also a founder of his own Youth league, Mandela was at the center of this freedom movement. However, his human rights activism was not entirely without violence. He was also a guerrilla leader who was involved in an armed action at Sharpeville, shortly after which he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Mandela is also the author of various books, one being his autobiography which he started writing while he was in prison. Even though he remained imprisoned for 26 years, he never ceased to motivate his followers with his immense devotion to his cause. As a result of which, his supporters vigorously rallied against his incarceration and promoted the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” across the country. Even while in jail, Mandela continued to urge his disciples to “unite”, “mobilize” and “fight on” against the oppression of apartheid. The extent of his commitment to achieving equal rights for black people in South Africa was so great that he even provided free of cost legal counsel to those black Africans who could not otherwise hire an attorney to represent them.
He was also the first black president of South Africa where once such an idea could not have been imagined. While in office, Mandela received immense international respect for not only establishing democracy in South Africa and harmonizing the country’s domestic issues but also for reconciling relations with other countries. Apart from his efforts towards achieving peace and encouraging education in South Africa, Mandela also fought hard against the AIDS crisis in his country during his presidency. His biggest achievement is not only his chief contribution in ending the apartheid but also his prominent social and human rights accomplishments which make Mandela deserving of all the international honors that he received. Two of the famous awards that he received, other than the Nobel Peace prize, are the Order of St. John from Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom that he received from George W. Bush.
Founded on Mandela’s vision and effort, the Nelson Mandela Foundation still successfully works today with the aim of upholding an egalitarian and democratic society. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is another leading organization in South Africa whose purpose is to transform the society’s ideas and encourage positive treatment towards the youth. As a tribute to his cause, there is a Nelson Mandela Museum near his abode in Qunu and a stadium founded on his name in Port Elizabeths which can seat up to 46,500 spectators.
Certainly, as a political activist, freedom fighter, lawyer and President, Nelson Mandela has contributed greatly to transforming not only South Africa but also inspired the whole world with his perception of egalitarianism. With so many awards and honorary degrees, he can rightly be called a famous and successful man who has benefited the world in numerous positive ways.