As dawn breaks on the nation of South Africa, many citizens will rise to the news of the passing of their beloved countryman, Nelson Mandela. Tonight, when the news was announced by current president Jacob Zuma just before midnight local time, crowds were already beginning to gather outside the former president’s residence in Johannesburg. The celebration of the 95 year old’s life shows just how deeply South Africa loved its favorite son. No one cries for sadness, rather tears of joy can be seen streaming down the faces of those who had their lives and their nation changed forever.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Mandela’s story is one of highs and lows, tremendous losses and remarkable victories. As a freedom fighter in the racially divided nation of South Africa, he worked through endless struggles to end apartheid in his nation. He fought racial inequality and successfully united South Africa as president from 1991-1997. He recognized the true value of being a public servant and a great leader. His work led to the realization of freedom, equality, and democracy for not just his own beloved nation, but lit a spark that continues to inspire the world today. But his “long walk to freedom” was rarely without hardship.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Nelson Mandela would serve 27 years in prison for his work to bring democracy and an end to apartheid to South Africa, but even such punishment would not crush his spirit or weaken his motivation. Rather, after his eventual release from prison in 1990, Mandela catapulted to national and global prominence, giving his cause a voice and the final push it need to become ultimately successful. He became the first black South African to win the presidency, and used his position to complete the eradication of apartheid, bring democracy to his nation, and unite all of South Africa.
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