Mandela: A Light Has Gone Out

International leaders from around the globe have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela in the wake of his passing at age 95. Barack Obama: “…we’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.” Francois Hollande: “Nelson Mandela’s message will not disappear. It will continue to inspire fighters for freedom, and to give confidence to peoples in the defense of just causes and universal rights.” David Cameron: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.”

There are almost no words to encapsulate the humility, inherent goodness, and wonderful righteousness of Nelson Mandela. In some of South Africa’s darkest days, he was a beacon of hope and equality. He pioneered justice in a country that was wracked by racial prejudice and for that, South Africans will always be grateful. He was the father of a nation and the friend of a world. Suffice it to say, Mandela will be missed, but his memory and legacy are undeniably immortal. The influence Mandela exerted as a world leader and respected freedom fighter will be canonized in the annals of history for centuries to come.


Mandela was born on July 18th, 1918 in Mvezo. He joined the African National Congress in 1943, his first foray into national politics. Mandela and his colleagues in ANC desired a more radical political group, and consequently formed African National Congress Youth League. In 1948, the National Party won the all-white election on a platform of apartheid, and the ANC adopted tactics of peaceful protest to have their voices heard. This was known as the Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws. “The Defiance Campaign was conceived as a mass civil disobedience campaign that would snowball from a core of selected volunteers to involve more and more ordinary people, culminating in mass defiance.” Most importantly, it did not employ violence but operated under a peaceful regime. But, the government forbid public meetings of this kind and contained Mandela to Johannesburg for six months.

In that time, Mandela opened the first black law firm in Johannesburg, which the government then told him to move miles away from client contact. Ultimately, it would mean the death of his business and was an overtly racial prejudice. During his time on ANC and throughout his legal employment, Mandela was oppressed, banned, and put on trial by the South African government. The ANC was declared illegal, with Mandela emerging as the underground leader, fighting for justice and the end of apartheid. He was imprisoned for 27 years following the Rivionia Trial but never acquiesced to his release on conditions that would jeopardize the anti-apartheid movement. Once released in 1990, Mandela worked unbelievably hard to continue his cause. In 1993, he was awarded the Novel Peace Prize. Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994 in the election that ended apartheid, an election where South Africa’s whites and blacks both voted.

His story inspires and the indefatigability of his spirit still lives on. Before his imprisonment, Mandela said, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.” Fortunately, Mandela lived to see the implementation of a democratic system in South Africa, and he will always be seen as a champion for freedom, justice, and equality.

— Megan Evershed, Co-World News Editor

Posted by on December 11, 2013. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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