Nelson Mandela

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Although imprisoned for 27 years for protesting aparteid, Nelson Mandela became a worldwide symbol of perserverance. Through his life, he demonstrated:  

  • COMPASSION: When Nelson was elected president of the National African Congress, he appointed his lifelong friend, fellow organizer and colleague Oliver Tambo as his national chairperson.
  • COLLABORATION: In 1993, both Nelson Mandela and President de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for successfully navigating the country towards its first multiracial election. This was a hard job, as the roots of apartheid were still strong in South Africa. Many people called for a complete transfer of power from white politicians, back to the Blacks from whom it was taken during colonization. The negotiations were complicated, and there were often violent outbursts, assassinations, and armed protests. During this time of intensity, Nelson and President de Klerk remained committed to finding balance while understanding the anger of the resistance.
  • RESPECT: Nelson respected the humanity of all South Africans, and created reforms while he was in office to create more jobs, housing, and basic health care so that everybody’s needs could be met regardless of their racial identity or economic status.
  • CELEBRATION: When he was finally released from prison, Nelson celebrated by letting go of his anger. He is known to have said “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
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