By: Symone Daniels

July 18 has been marked as Nelson Mandela Day, and we salute our hero!

Mandela better known as “Father of the Nation” was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative Democratic election.

A Xhosa, Mandela was born in Mvezo to the Thembu royal family. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC’s Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party In 1962. He was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state and sentenced to life in the Rivonia Trial. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison.

Mandela mended the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Mandela’s administration retained its liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. Mandela was often critized and was sometimes referred to as a communist terrorist. To others, Mandela was looked up to as an iconic figure and he received more than 250 honors including the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, on 5 December 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection.

He will always be a leader known for leading a generation of those seeking change.

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