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Agent of Change: Nelson Mandela

To celebrate International Nelson Mandela day, it’s only natural our first ‘Agent of Change’ is the very man himself - Nelson Mandela

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To celebrate 'International Nelson Mandela Day' this July 18, 2018, we reflect on his relentless pursuit of fighting segregation in South Africa, as well as share a personal image taken by our CEO, Rebecca Haynes who visited Robben Island back in 2006 who possesses a keen interest in civil rights history.

Nelson Mandela was the president of South Africa from 1994-1999. He was the first black president of South Africa, and the first president to be elected in a fully representative election. His government focused on destroying the Apartheid government in the country, which had focused on racial segregation enforced by the law.

In school, Mandela studied law and became one of South Africa’s first black lawyers. In the 1950s, he was elected leader of the youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement. When the government prohibited the ANC for racial reasons, Mandela organized a secret military movement. He had previously been involved in peaceful protests but when they were met with violence from the government he went on to support an armed movement.

Mandela was imprisoned from 1962-1990 for treason and conspiracy against the government. He was sentenced to life in prison but was released early when the ANC became legal again. While he was in prison, Mandela was a symbol to rally behind for the oppressed in South Africa who were fighting for rights.

Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for peacefully destroying the Apartheid regime and laying the foundation for democracy. In addition to the Nobel Piece Prize, he won over 250 other awards. 

After retirement from politics, Mandela started the Nelson Mandela Foundation that focused on combating HIV/AIDS and supported rural development and school construction. In 2009, the United Nations proclaimed Mandela’s birthday (July 18th) to be Nelson Mandela International Day. 

Nelson Mandela is considered the father of Modern South Africa. He was instrumental in tearing down the oppressive government and installing democracy. 

His command of language to incite change cannot be disputed. 

"During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

But die he didn't....

STEPS TO FREEDOM

This pile of rocks symbolise the 'Steps to Freedom' where South Africa's 'Freedom Fighters' returned after they were freed of wrongful imprisonment. The pile was over 1.5m high.

Each rock belongs to one of the prisoners locked up for crimes they did not commit other than simple opposition.

Picture courtesy of Rebecca Haynes 

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again. – Nelson Mandela