Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bharat Ratna Nelson Mandela:Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Nelson Mandela died on 5th December 2013
Bharat Ratna Nelson Mandela

A long-term icon of the struggle 
against racial oppression

Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and a long-term icon of the struggle against racial oppression, died on Thursday in Johannesburg after prolonged illness. His declining health condition was keenly followed in the country and across the world. Recent media reports mentioning about him wrote that with white hair, frail body Mandela used to lean heavily on a cane when he walked into his study. He used to slip off his shoes, lower himself into a stiff-backed chair and lift each leg onto a cushioned stool. His wife, Graça, adjusting his feet always attended on him. To Mandela’s left was a small table piled with newspapers in English and Afrikaans, the language of the whites who imprisoned him for 27 years.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela born on 18 July 1918, served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted and was sentenced to life in prison. Mandela served 27 years in prison. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. Mandela received more than 250 awards over four decades, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. He was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine same year. In the year 1980 he received Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. India's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, was awarded to Nelson Mandela in 1990. In 1973, a nuclear particle discovered by scientists at the University of Leeds was named as "Mandela particle". There is a Nelson Mandela Road in New Delhi since December 10, 1988. Mandela was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize for 1990-the last-ever recipient.

            Nelson Mandela belongs to Thimbu dynasty. He became the first member of his family to attend a school, where his teacher gave him the English name "Nelson". In 1937 Mandela moved to college. While a law student at the University of Witwatersrand, he first befriended fellow students and future anti-apartheid political activists who remained his lifelong friends.

            After the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which supported the apartheid policy of racial segregation, Mandela began actively participating in politics. Mahatma Gandhi influenced Mandela's approach, and subsequently the methods of succeeding generations of South African anti-apartheid activists. Mandela later took part in the 29–30 January 2007 conference in New Delhi marking the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's introduction of Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) in South Africa.

            In 1961 Mandela became leader of the ANC's armed wing, which he co-founded. He coordinated sabotage campaigns against military and government targets, making plans for a possible guerrilla war if the sabotage failed to end apartheid. When many years of non-violent protest against apartheid could not achieve considerable progress, a guerrilla war against the government took place in which many civilians became casualties. Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, sharply criticizing those in his own party. On 5 August 1962 Mandela was arrested and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. On 25 October 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison.

            Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison. While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known as the most significant black leader in South Africa. On the island, he and others performed hard labor in a lime quarry. Prison conditions were very basic. Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors. While in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws.

            In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison. The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985.  Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made. In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release. Various restrictions were lifted.

            Throughout Mandela's imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! In 1989, Botha was replaced as president by Frederick Willem de Klerk. He announced Mandela's release in February 1990. Mandela was visited several times by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross, while at Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor prison.

            On 2 February 1990, President F. W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on 11 February 1990. The event was broadcast live all over the world. On the day of his release, Mandela made a speech to the nation. He declared his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the country's white minority, but made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not yet over.

Following his release from prison, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and, between 1990 and 1994, led the party in the multi-party negotiations that led to the country's first multi-racial elections. In 1991, the ANC held its first national conference in South Africa after its unbanning, electing Mandela as President of the organization. His old friend and colleague Oliver Tambo, who had led the organization in exile during Mandela's imprisonment, became National Chairperson. Mandela's leadership through the negotiations, as well as his relationship with President F. W. de Klerk, was recognized when they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

South Africa's first multi-racial elections in which full enfranchisement was granted were held on 27 April 1994. The ANC won 62% of the votes in the election, and Mandela, as leader of the ANC, was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country's first black President, with the National Party's de Klerk as his first deputy and Thabo Mbeki as the second in the Government of National Unity. As President from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.

During the course of his presidency, a wide range of progressive social reforms were enacted by Mandela's government, aimed at reducing long entrenched social and economic inequalities in South Africa. Mandela married third time, on his 80th birthday in 1998, to Graça Machel widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president.

Nelson Mandela received a courtesy call from Sonia Gandhi, on Wednesday, 22 August, 2007. Gifts were exchanged at the meeting, and speeches made commemorating the ties between South Africa and India. An historic photograph taken at the opening of the ANC’s office in India in 1967 was presented to Mandela then. Indira Gandhi, beginning with her student years, and throughout her life, gave her unwavering support to the ANC and to the struggle of the oppressed people for a non-racial democracy. End

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