A great leader passes away

The great South African leader Nelson Mandela died because of health issues on December 5. He was 95 years old. Tens of thousands of South Africans along with leaders from many nations gathered for his memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is remembered for his fight against apartheid and for his beliefs that all people are equal, regardless of skin color, religion, or background.

As the name describes, South Africa is a country in the southern part of Africa. South Africa is called a rainbow nation because of the diverse cultures and people that live there. They say you can find all skin tones in the country.

One of the biggest issues that South Africa faced in the last century was apartheid, where people of different races were treated differently and led separate lives. Apartheid went into effect as an official policy in the country in 1948. The schools, hospitals, restaurants, and even the beaches people could go to depended upon their race. The majority of South Africans were black people, and the minority were the white people. The white people were favored over the black people, and were treated in a superior manner.

Nelson Mandela was born in a small town in South Africa in 1918. His name was Rolihlahla Mandela, and he was given the name “Nelson” by his school teacher because it was common practice for school children to be given “Christian” names. He studied to become a lawyer. In the 1950s, he became involved in trying to bring an end to apartheid. He was arrested in 1962 and spent 27 years in a prison on Robben Island. While in jail, he became a strong symbol for the fight against apartheid. He was finally released in 1990. The country held its first multi-racial elections in 1994. Mandela won and became the first black president of South Africa, bringing an end to apartheid.

Frederik Willem de Klerk was the president of South Africa when Mandela was freed from jail in 1990. Klerk and Mandela were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their work to rid South Africa of apartheid.

South Africa’s colorful image can also be seen in its flag – it has 6 colors in it. The country has eleven official languages, and three cities that act as its capital: Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town. The second highest waterfall in the world is in South Africa. The Tugela Falls is almost 1 kilometer (3,000 feet) high.

One of Mandela’s famous quotes from 1964: “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 live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Did you know?

South Africa has the only street (Vilakazi Street) in the world that once had two Nobel Prize winners living on it (Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela).

Image Credits:El C for Apartheid Sign’s image, PhilippN for Tugela Falls’ image
South Africa The Good News for Mandela’s image
Sources: http://www.nelsonmandela.org, http://www.gov.za, CIA World Factbook, http://www.joburg.org.za/