Thursday, 5 December 2013

"No longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages." Obama Said.

The world knows Nelson Mandela as a man who forever changed the course of modern history and who will surely continue to leave his mark long after his death Thursday at the age of 95.

You may know that he spent 27 years in prison, that he led South Africa out of apartheid and that he served as his nation's first black president.

But did you know about the role of rugby in his legacy? His musings on Valentine's Day? The lessons he taught sympathetic prison guards during his time behind bars?

Here are some details from Mandela's life that you might not have known.

1. Father of the nation

Nelson Mandela's place as South Africa's premier hero is so secure that the central bank released new banknotes in 2012 showing his face.
2. Valentine's Day
In one 1995 note, written in lines of neat handwriting in blue ink, Mandela muses on 
Valentine's day. It appears to be a draft of a letter to a young admirer, in which Mandela said his rural upbringing by illiterate parents left him "colossally ignorant" about simple things like a holiday devoted to romance.

3. Two anthems

At his inauguration, Mandela stood hand on heart, saluted by white generals as he sang along to two anthems: the apartheid-era Afrikaans "Die Stem" ("The Voice") and the African "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("Lord Bless Africa").

4. A new life

When Mandela went free after 27 years, he walked hand-in-hand with his wife Winnie out of a prison on the South African mainland, and raised his right fist in triumph. In his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," he would write: "As I finally walked through those gates ... I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew."

5. A ways to go

Mandela is widely credited with helping to avert race-driven chaos as South Africa emerged from apartheid. But he could not forge lasting solutions to poverty, unemployment and other social ills that still plague his country. Though relatively stable, it has struggled to live up to its rosy depiction as the " Rainbow Nation."

6. World Cup

Mandela's last public appearance was in 2010. Bundled up against the cold, he smiled broadly and waved to the crowd at the Soccer City stadium during the closing ceremony of the World Cup, an event that allowed his country to take the world spotlight.

7. Mandela the reconciler

Mandela was born the son of a tribal chief in Transkei, a Xhosa homeland. Many South Africans of all races call him by his clan name, Madiba, which means "reconciler," as a token of affection and respect.

8. The harsher side

Despite his saintly image, Mandela could be harsh. When black journalists mildly criticized his government, he painted them as stooges of the whites who owned the media. Whites with complaints were sometimes dismissed as pining for their old privileges.
9. Fighting AIDS

Mandela eventually turned to fighting AIDS, publicly acknowledging in 2005 that his son, Makgatho, had died of the disease. The nation, which has the most people living with HIV in the world at 5.6 million, still faces stigma and high rates of infection.

10. Home village

Mandela celebrated holidays and hosted dignitaries among the huts of rural Qunu in a replica of the prison guard's home where he lived during his final days of confinement. Ever self-deprecating, Mandela maintained he chose to recreate the home from Victor Verster prison because he was already familiar with it and wouldn't "have to wander at night looking for the kitchen." But his fellow South Africans saw the decision as an inspiring way to transform the old structure of imprisonment into one of freedom. Many of Mandela's close relatives live in Qunu, and the family burial plot is just yards from the home.

11. 'A democratic and free society'

A statement Mandela made during his 1964 sabotage trial revealed his resolve in the fight to end white racist rule. "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people," Mandela said. "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. Two months later, he and seven other defendants were sentenced to life in prison.


13. 'Never again'

Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. At the close of his inauguration speech, he said: "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world."

"Let freedom reign. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement! God bless Africa!"

14. Inmate 46664

Mandela was confined to the harsh Robben Island prison off the coast of Cape Town for most of his time behind bars. He and others quarried limestone there, working seven hours a day nearly every day for 12 years, until forced labor was abolished on the island. In secret, Mandela — inmate No. 46664 — wrote at night in his tiny concrete-floored cell.

It was forbidden to quote him or publish his photo, but go-betweens ferried messages from prisoners to anti-apartheid leaders in exile. Prisoners gathered in small groups for Socratic seminars, and Mandela offered lessons on the movement to guards he thought would be open to persuasion. All the guards were white; all the prisoners were black, mixed race, or Asian.

15. 'Look into yourself'

"People tend to measure themselves by external accomplishments, but jail allows a person to focus on internal ones; such as honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and an absence of variety," Mandela says in one of the many quotations displayed at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. "You learn to look into yourself."

16. Nelson and Winnie

Nelson Mandela divorced Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 1996, ending a powerful political partnership that had lasted through decades of struggle. As he remained behind bars, she became an activist leader in her own right, leading marches with a fist raised and building a base among the radical wing of the African National Congress. Madikizela-Mandela lost influence as Mandela pushed the ANC along a moderate course.

17. Mandela's office

After his retirement from the presidency, Mandela regularly worked from an office in the recently refurbished Johannesburg building that houses the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. The officeincludes framed photographs of Mandela in healthier times with his wife, Graca Machel, former UN chief Kofi Annan, fellow activist Walter Sisulu, and others.

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