Former President Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully at the age of 95 on Thursday, as reported by CNN. South African President Jacob Zuma said, “He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma said. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in prison before he became the first Black President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He led the country out of apartheid, a system of racial segregation in the country for decades.
Over the past few months, Mandela suffered from different health issues including chronic lung infection. He was hospitalized many times because of his illness.
In 1993, Mandela together with Former South African President F.W. de Klerk received a Nobel Peace Prize for transforming South Africa out of racial segregation system.
Last year, de Klerk said, “I had read, of course, everything I could read about him beforehand. I was well-briefed.I was impressed, however, by how tall he was. By the ramrod straightness of his stature, and realized that this is a very special man. He had an aura around him. He’s truly a very dignified and a very admirable person.”
In 1964, Nelson Mandela delivered a defiant speech instead of testifying during the famous Rivonia trial, wherein in he received a verdict of life imprisonment for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. 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 needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” said Mandela during that trial.
Nelson Mandela was released from prison because of the growing pressure from all over the world demanding for his freedom. The white minority government in South Africa back then became isolated because of international economic, political, and sporting sanctions. In 1990, Mandela obtained his freedom.
During his term as President of South Africa, Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations the occurred during the racial segregation system. He also promoted education and economic development as well as housing initiatives to improve the quality of life of the black majority.
“The day he was inducted as president, we stood on the terraces of the Union Building. He took my hand and lifted it up. He put his arm around me, and we showed a unity that resounded through South Africa and the world,” as remembered by de Klerk years ago.
Despite his retirement from active politics, Nelson Mandela remained the voice of developing nations and promoted different causes such as human rights, world peace, and fight against AIDS.