December 5, 2013
Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and an enduring icon in the struggle against racial oppression, died at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection. Born on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo, a part of South Africa’s Cape Town Province, Mandela later became one of the country’s most revered heroes.
“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” said the current South African President Jacob Zuma in a televised address Thursday evening. “His humility, his compassion and his humanity earned him our love.”
Leaders from across the globe added similar condolences. President Barack Obama described Mandela as, “one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth."
Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of treason by the white minority government, only to forge a peaceful end to white rule by negotiating with his captors after his release in 1990. Mandela led the African National Congress, a formerly banned liberation movement, to a resounding electoral victory in 1994, in the first fully democratic election in the country’s history.
Even though Mandela lost his father, a tribal chieftain, at the age of nine, it is said he inherited several of his characteristics. In his own words, he inherited his father's “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness.”
Once a member of the boxing community, always a member
As far as Mandela’s involvement in Boxing, he was a huge fan and at one time worked out at a local gym. Two of the boxers he admired were heavyweight champions Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela," said Ali on Thursday through NBC's Ann Curry, "His was a life filled with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically."
Seven of Mandela’s most memorable quotes:
"I hate race discrimination most intensely and all its manifestations. I have fought it all my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days.”
“In the ring, rank, age, color and wealth are irrelevant. When you’re circling your opponent, you’re not thinking about his color or social status.”
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it."
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."
"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up."
“As I walked out the door toward my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind, that I would still be in Prison.”
Not only South Africans, but people from around the world are mourning the loss of this great man.