On Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary, here are some facts on South Africa’s first black President and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
* Nelson Mandela, known as the father of modern South Africa, was its first black President, serving from 1994 to 1999. He fought to end apartheid in South Africa, where black people were discriminated against and segregated from white people in public places.
* He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 “for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime” jointly with F.W. de Klerk, the final South African President under the apartheid regime.
* Born in Mvezo, South Africa, on July 18th, 1918 his real name was Rolihlahla (or ‘troublemaker’ in the African language Xhosa) Mandela. He was named Nelson by his elementary school teacher. July 18 is known as Nelson Mandela Day to remember his tireless efforts to campaign for human rights.
* The son of a tribal chief, he grew up in a small village and was the first person in his family to attend school. He later attended College of Fort Hare and studied law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1952, he set up the first black-owned law firm in Johannesburg.
* Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944 and became its president in 1950. He was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and followed his non-violent approach to fight apartheid. In 1964, he was declared a terrorist and sentenced to life imprisonment, spending 27 years at Robben Island Prison.
* During his 1964 trial, Mandela gave his famous three-hour “Speech from the Dock”, where he said, “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 needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
* While in prison, he was inspired by the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, which he read out to his fellow inmates. Here is a quote from the poem:
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
* He was released early from prison in 1990, after pressure from around the world. He continued his fight against apartheid, which came to an end by 1993.
* He was elected President in 1994 in South Africa’s first democratic election. He received nearly 700 awards in his lifetime and co-authored the book ‘How Far We Slaves Have Come!’ with Fidel Castro. He established many non-profit organisations, such as The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
* Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95, due to a lung infection.
* These are some inspiring Nelson Mandela quotes for children:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
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