December 5 marks the first death anniversary of Nelson Mandela who passed away last year at his house in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 95 years old at the time of his death and was suffering long time illness. Although the world mourns over the death of one of the greatest leaders of the world, it is also remembering and celebrating the life of the legend in many ways.
Mandela was a global icon, an unmatched leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner who will live in people’s hearts forever. He inspires not only people of his country but people all around the world, especially the youth. Today they are remembering and celebrating his life long journey.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape Province. He spent his childhood days in the village of Qunu and moved to Johannesburg in the early days of his youth. He entered politics in 1942 by joining African National Congress (ANC) which was the major ruling party of the country. After racist National Party came into power by a white electorate, Mandela and his party started a movement of civil disobedience, strike, boycott and non-cooperation. In response he was charged with suspended prison sentence.
He was imprisoned many times during his political activist journey, due to his anti-government and anti–apartheid movement. In 1960, when police opened fire on protestors in Sharpeville, the immediate riots erupted across the country and as a result, ANC was banned and Mandela was sentenced for life imprisonment in 1964.
He spent 27 years in jail and finally when country’s National Party president released the ban on all liberation movements, all political prisoners including Nelson Mandela were released. Soon after his release, he became ANC elected president with the support of his party. In 1994, after the country’s first democratic elections, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.
As the world is celebrating the life of a great leader, prisoners in a South African prison are making blankets for poor communities as a symbol to pay tribute to their ant-apartheid leader. Prisoners also do much other charitable work every year on their leader’s birthday for 67 minutes to honor his 67 years struggle for people.
Mandela was also a big sports fan. He had always promoted a vision that sports can bring people together. NBA executive and great fan and friend of Mandela, Masai Ujiri has arranged a special event at Air Canada Center, in an honor of celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life. On Friday, an evening long celebration basketball game called “The Giant of Africa” will remember the life of the world’s iconic leader.
Nelson Mandela has been given tribute during his life and also after his death in many different ways. There are 23 schools and institutes named after him, 13 stadiums, plazas and gardens, countless streets and parks and around 13 statues and sculptures bearing his name all around the world.
Today, people are not mourning Nelson Mandela’s death; instead they are celebrating his life and his everlasting mission to free the people from racism. People are still holding his legacy and his mission because he was among few of those who have gone through life long struggles for peace and reconciliation.
By Atika Jilani
Photo by Desinteret – Flickr License