Nelson Mandela: The Death of a Legendary Leader

Nelson Mandela: The Death of a Legendary Leader

South African president Jacob Zuma announced that the world renowned revolutionary activist and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela passed away on Dec. 5th. The 95 year-old politician was recently hospitalized for recurrent lung infections; he succumbed to his health issues at his suburban home in the Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa that day.

“I was deeply saddened when I first heard the news of Nelson Mandela’s death,” junior Soriya De Lopez said. “Although the world lost a great and influential man and he leaves behind a legacy that will forever be in the hearts of the lives he has touched.”

Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918 to a Thembu royal family just outside of Cape Town. He was initially named Rolihlahla because he constantly started controversy and trouble. At 16, Mandela attended a curriculum school where his graduating class named him Dalibhunga, meaning “creator of a parliament”, and his teacher named him Nelson for a reason Mandela never understood. Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law and later became a lawyer.

Mandela joined the ANC (African National Congress), an anti-colonial politics group, and founded the Youth League. He rose to prominence as he was appointed leader of the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. Though he preaches for nonviolence and peace, Mandela participated in numerous seditious acts  in protest. He was unsuccessfully prosecuted during the Treason Trial  (1959-1961) but was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to overthrow the government in the Rivonia trial in 1962. In Robben Island, Mandela lead the ANC “High Organ” and other political activists in prison. After an international campaign was launched for his release, Mandela was out of confinement in 1990 after serving 27 years. He received global  recognition with the nobel peace prize in 1993. In 1994, Mandela  became the first black president of South Africa. He was determined to bring the country into a new light of equality (new South Africa). In 1999, Mandela steps down from office and leaves the public eye in 2004 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001.

Nelson Mandela has greatly impacted some of the most influential figures alive. After Nelson’s death was announced, Barack Obama broadcast himself and preached on how Mandela’s motivation from hope instead of fear shaped him into the leader he is today. Obama traveled to South Africa on Dec. 11 to pay his condolences at his friend’s memorial and plans to attend his funeral. Mandela’s openly religious approach also allows him to judge a person based on beliefs. Nelson Mandela has received over 2045 honors, awards, and celebrations such as ‘Mandela Day’ in Zimbabwe (established in 1990), the Africa Peace Award (1995) and the International Gandhi Peace Prize (2001). Mandela also authored an award-winning autobiography after leaving prison called Long Walk to Freedom and has founded numerous foundations for HIV/AIDS, child care, and civil rights. Invictus (2009) is a movie portraying the Rugby team Mandela created in office. Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, rallied the team in order to symbolize the unity the country has made. The movie went on getting two Oscar nominations and showed the new generation the good man that Mandela was. The movie, Mandela, is coming out this year.

Mandela has inspired many lives , including the students of AHS.

“Mandela was both a significant and inspirational figure for South Africa and the rest of the world, so his death was saddening” sophomore Ahmed Mohamed said.

“I was sad when I heard of his passing but I was aware that he was checked in a hospital before his death so I coped with it well. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are the reason why we have social equality today” Junior Umar Farooq said.

Junior Soriya De Lopez is the club president of Just World at AHS. She is devastated of  learning about the loss of the peace icon and greatly appreciates the impact he’s made to the club and the world.

“Mandela helped change the world in enormous ways.  Not only has he revolutionized the lives of those in South Africa as being the ‘anti-apartheid hero’, but he has also greatly contributed to the world as a whole” Lopez said. “He embodied the spirit and mission of the Just World Club here at Annandale High School with his constant advocacy for human rights.”

Lopez plans to create a tribute with Just World in memory of Mandela.

“In our future Just World Meeting, I think it would be a great idea to give an overview of Mandela’s life that could inspire our members” Lopez said. “His lifetime achievements are remarkable and showing our members what one person is capable of can make our mission for human rights around the world even stronger.”

Many important figures that have had the opportunity to meet Mandela such as Fareed Zakaria, Larry King, and Chris Powell concluded that their beloved friend and inspiration will be remembered not only as a ferocious political and military fighter, but also as the most humble and gentle of men. Mandela’s ability to bring enemies and opposing sides together while staying loyal to his policies will be one of the many awe inspiring  attributes that the world will miss.

“Mandela symbolized peace, hope, and an unwavering spirit that lifted people from oppression” Soriya De Lopez said. “His array of achievements, including the Nobel Peace Prize, did not tarnish his humbleness and loving character.  Mandela truly left his mark on the world.”