A young boy, member of the Maitibolo Cultural Dance Troop, pays his respects to the former South African President Nelson Mandela at the tribute wall outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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 father’s 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 that he admired most 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.”
(top) A handful of men work out at the Soweto YMCA, also known as the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre in Soweto Township July 4, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The former South African President would often train here five nights a week during the early 1950s. “The walls are drenched with the sweet memories that will delight me for years,” wrote Mandela about his neighborhood gym. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (below) Photos show the young pugilist in his prime.
(bottom) Members of the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association pray outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela was being treated on June 30, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Michael Jackson hugs Mandela at the conclusion of a brief meeting on July 20, 1996. Photo: Adil Bradlow, AP
(top, right) A young supporter holds up a sign wishing Nelson Mandela a Happy Birthday during the Nelson Mandela Football Invitational match at Moses Mabhida Stadium on July 18, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. Photo: Anesh Debiky/Getty Images (bottom) The peloton waits behind a large picture commemorating the birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela before stage eighteen of the 2013 Tour de France in Gap, France. Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
(top) A large photograph of Nelson Mandela, the day before he went to prison in 1962, hangs inside the Mandela House and Museum on historic Vilakazi Street in Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa. From 1946 to 1990 this was Mandela’s home. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
(below) Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and wife Graca Machel wave to the crowd just prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Statues everywhere: (bottom) The public passes a statue of former President Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, June 27, 2013 in London, England. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
(top, right) A shopper walks past the 20-foot-tall statue of Mandela in Mandela Square near the Sandton shopping district in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. (top, left) July, 2013, a statue of Mandela overlooks the city of Bloemfontein, the birthplace of the ANC. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
(top) Children going to school run along a path between houses in Qunu, South Africa. After spending 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid work, Nelson Mandela returned to Qunu, where he had lived from age two to nine, to build his home. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (bottom) Nelson Mandela’s coral-colored home and compound stands next to the N2 highway among the rolling hills of his hometown of Qunu, South Africa.
A newscaster broadcasts the news of the passing of Nelson Mandela from under the marquee at the historic Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, on December 5, 2013. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
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, people from around the world are mourning the loss of this great man.