Nelson Mandela was a man who, despite spending nearly 30 years in prison, kept the hope and embodied the qualities of a True Believer.
Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in Cape Provence, South Africa. He was the son of a chief and so received the best education available to a native African at that time. He studied at Fort Hare University in South Africa and became involved in student protests. From this young age he had much conviction and commitment towards his strong belief against inequality.
In 1941, in his 20s, he moved to Johannesburg where he witnessed racial discrimination first-hand. He worked in the mines as he also pursued his studies as a law clerk. He joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organisation in South Africa. Nelson said, “The task of the ANC is to unite African people, and out of them, build a nation.”
The struggle against apartheid
In 1955 the ANC, with Mandela as its main organiser, called upon people of all races to gather in Kliptown to approve The Freedom Chapter — a plan for a free democratic and multi racial South Africa in which all races could be treated equally. But he was banned by the government from attending and later charged with high treason. The trial was designed to keep him and other activists out of politics and continued for four years. In the years that followed many protestors were killed and the government imposed martial law. Many who fought against apartheid were jailed.
Mandela spoke from his place in hiding:
We have made it very clear in our policy that South Africa is a country of many races, there is room for all the various races in this country. There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue to talk peace and non-violence against a government whose reply is only savage attacks on an unarmed and defenceless people.
In 1962 he was captured and imprisoned and was facing the death sentence.
He spoke out again declaring his ambition for equality:
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. But if need be it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
He was 45 years old when he was sentenced to life imprisonment. While in prison he held his belief in his ideal and his stature continued to grow as did those who believed in the same vision. His wife, one of his biggest True Believers, continued to be a voice for unity. While Mandela was in prison other leaders throughout the world also believed in his vision and campaigned for change.
The struggle against apartheid continued for 40 years. In the late 1980s under world pressure, the government began to dismantle apartheid.
In 1990, at the age of 71, Mandela was released from prison. He was again a free man.
At his first appearance as a free man, nearly three decades since his imprisonment, Mandela spoke: “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you the people. I place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”
He became the country’s first black President of a united non-racial South Africa, saying “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
He created an enduring legacy through the many contributions of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Nelson Mandela worked tirelessly on what he truly believed for his entire life. He successfully managed the many non-believers that came before him on a massive purpose — one many said was so large it was futile. He said, “It’s futile to be thinking about what happened in the past. We are thinking about what is happening now and what should happen tomorrow.”
His strong belief is what gave him a lifetime of stamina and a commitment to finish. He became an icon of leadership and humanity. His unwavering belief was and still is an inspiration to many.
Nelson Mandela lived his life with:
Nelson Mandela was a True Believer!
Imagine if you walked forth as an icon of leadership and humanity — even if it is just in your home or in your workplace or your community. True Believers start with a vision and through their commitment to that vision make the world a better place.
Every Minute Counts and You Can Have It All!