Biography: Nelson Mandela
One of my personal heroes is a man known for ending one of the most horrifying practices of discrimination in the world. Apartheid was a policy of the white minority in South Africa gaining control over the black majority through ludicrous laws and regulations. Nelson Mandela sought out to end apartheid in South Africa—a seemingly impossible task considering it had been going on since 1948 when the National Party won the election under the stance of apartheid. These policies were similar to the Jim Crow laws in the southern United States, with the white minority abusing the black citizens. Mandela made it his life goal to end this horrible practice, but it was not without struggles.
Mandela became well educated in law and eventually realized the injustice in his country. He chose to act upon this injustice by using non-violent techniques to get his desired results. He protested vehemently, but when he saw this as ineffective, he chose to sabotage the oppressive government by destroying government building and sabotaging power lines and crops. He never wanted to do these acts, but after years of non-violence, he knew action had to be taken. Mandela made sure never to hurt anyone through his acts, while simultaneously attempting to make the government officials’ lives difficult. After being on the run from the government for almost 17 months, Mandela was tracked down and promptly arrested and convicted as a political prisoner. For almost 30 years he sat and waited in prison for an opportunity to continue fighting for what he believed in.
Eventually in 1990, Mandela was released from prison. He immediately took up his activism to end apartheid. After 4 years of negotiations with the National Party and other protests, he ran for president and won! In 1994 Mandela ended apartheid and became a worldwide symbol of standing up for tolerance. Mandela was president for 5 years and then later became a worldwide activist for justice teaching all of us to stand up to what we believe in.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
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