Target: Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Nelson Mandela Foundation
Goal: Honor human rights leader Nelson Mandela and the incredible legacy he has left behind
On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. His death has been met with an international outpouring of love and remembrance for his life, his actions, and his words. It is said without a doubt that he has changed the course of the world’s history for the better, and deserves to be honored for his sacrifices and teachings.
In his early years, Mandela earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare, leading to his becoming qualified to practice law in 1942. He established the first black firm in South Africa with his colleague Oliver Tambo in 1952, but roughly three years later he would be arrested and put on trial for treason as an activist. Mandela was not acquitted of charges until 1961; he secretly left South Africa the following year to gain support in fighting apartheid (intense racial segregation in South Africa).
Believing his passive, non-violent approach to challenging apartheid might never yield results, Mandela traveled the world looking for a different solution. However, Mandela was arrested along with other ANC members for plotting to overthrow the government that was currently enforcing segregation.
At that time, Mandela said, “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 achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” He was found guilty based on the corrupt government’s standards and sentenced to life in prison.
He was confined to a small cell with rudimentary basics: a floor for the bed and a bucket for a toilet. He spent 18 years like this, and could only have one visitor per year for half an hour. The last nine years of his sentence proved to be some of the most interesting of his life. Many fellow inmates began trusting in him as legal representation for misdemeanors committed in prison. It helped solidify his path to leadership and after being release from prison in 1990, he served as the first democratically elected, black president in South Africa.
During his five years in the presidency, he continually worked to reconcile the lingering effects of segregation. He established a central government based on majority rule, ensuring the basic rights of minorities. Mandela also created a plan through which funding was supplied for housing, basic healthcare, and the creation of jobs.
Current South African President Jacob Zuma has stated, “[Mandela] is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.” Truer words cannot be spoken. Mandela dedicated his life to equality, education, and kindness. One of his oft remembered quotes truly embodies his lifelong philosophies: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Remember Nelson Mandela. His life’s work was dedicated to the equality of human beings, and the belief that no one group should ever be oppressed by another. It is, as he said, an issue worth dying for—although that should be the last resort in resolving a conflict. Honor his memory and uphold the beliefs he fought for his entire life: equality, education, love.
Dear Professor Njabulo Ndebele,
I am very saddened to hear of the loss of Nelson Mandela. He was a truly an inspiring leader and amazing human being. The world has lost one of the greatest, but it is a comfort to know he is in his final rest after 95 years of fighting for equality for the people he loved and governed.
I understand that the Nelson Mandela Foundation is collecting notes of condolences and remembrance. I have signed this petition in support of the world-changing life Nelson Mandela lead, and the sacrifices he made to make our planet a better place. It is hard to find words fitting enough to pay respect to his legacy, but I will honor his life by striving to be as he was: kind, generous, smart, and brave.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: South Africa The Good News via Wikimedia