It’s 18 July today. It’s the International Mandela Day, when the world celebrates the life and legacy of the former South-African President, revolutionary and philanthropist, Nelson Mandela. July 18, 2018 marks the 100th birth anniversary of the anti-apartheid political leader.
Born at Mvezo in Transkei, South Africa, Mandela received his university education from the University of Fort Hare, the University of South Africa and Wits University. Mandela has always credited his education with the highest regards. In fact, Mandela received the name ‘Nelson’ from one of his teachers.
Mandela Day first came into being when the Nelson Mandela Foundation and 46664, a series of AIDS relief concerts citing Mandela’s prison cell number, collectively suggested the idea. The first Mandela Day was celebrated on 18 July, 2009, which was Mandela’s 91st birthday. The same year, United Nations declared Mandela Day an international affair.
The International Mandela Day is now observed everywhere. Educational seminars, relief concerts, fundraisers and art exhibitions are held worldwide to remember the political leader and his heritage.
This year, former US President Barack Obama led the celebrations in Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, by delivering a speech at the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. Obama referred to himself as “one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life”.
Throughout his life, Mandela waged for abatement of poverty, institutionalisation of social justice and reconciliation of racial divides. In 1943, he joined the African National Congress, which challenged the norms of the apartheid government. As a result of his persistent revolutionary practices, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962.
The anti-apartheid leader spent 27 long years in prison, shared between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison. He was finally released from custody on February 11, 1990. After his release, Mandela worked with President FW de Klerk to dismember the apartheid management.
On 27 April, 1994, Mandela voted for the first time in his life, and on 9 May, 1994, he was elected by Parliament the first President of democratic South Africa. The same year, on 14 December, he launched his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.
Mandela held office from 1994 to 1999, after which he founded the Nelson Mandela Fund and resumed his philanthropic participation. On 12 October, 2010, he published his second book Conversations with Myself. Mandela is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1993), Bharat Ratna (1990), Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002), and Gandhi Peace Price (2001).
Mandela died on 5 December, 2013, aged 95, of a prolonged respiratory infection.