Nelson Mandela: a life lived for freedom and Justice
by FFE PH News Staff
The world’s icon for leadership and freedom, Nelson Mandela, 95, has passed away on 5 December 2013 in his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. As the world mourns the death of an icon for peace, let us also celebrate the life of somebody who put the interest of the country ahead of his own.
Nelson Mandela was a person who didn’t use his power to take revenge against those who persecuted him in the past. Instead, he forgave them and worked with them to make South Africa the most prosperous country in the region. He became the symbol of tolerance, freedom and courage for people around the world.
In turn, the world has responded with words that inspire and commemorate a life lived for others. South African President Jacob Zuma said ‘Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.’ World leaders have sent their thoughts and condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa who have also lost a champion.
President Noynoy Aquino had expressed his condolences in a statement released today. The president said ‘His memory will serve as a durable guide to humanity as we seek to bequeath to future generations a world better than we found it.’
Aquino recalled one occasion when Mandela visited the Philippines in 1996. Mandela told then representative Noynoy Aquino ‘You chose your parents well.’ Mandela also met with a ‘fellow icon of democracy’, former president Corazon Aquino, in Cape Town in the same year. President Noynoy Aquino recalled that his mother admired Mandela and that she would have been saddened by his passing.
Senator Loren Legarda also paid tribute to the South African leader. She was still a journalist when she got to know Mandela in an interview in 1997. She said ‘He was a leader who earned your respect with his presence alone because even with his power and influence.
‘He never gave the impression that the leadership was all about him, but that he was a man who was tasked to execute the ideals and ideas of his organization.’
Former president Erap Estrada, who was the Philippines’ representative to Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994, also recalled his meetings with Mandela. He said ‘The story of Mr Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, inspired me to stay strong even behind bars.’
The University of the Philippines-Manila awarded Mandela with a Doctorate of Laws Honoris Causa for his persistent fight for freedom and social justice in South Africa. Former senator and former UP president Edgardo Angara welcomed Mandela on his 1997 awarding.
Mandela was an active anti-apartheid revolutionary beginning 1943 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC). In his time, South Africa was dominated by a white-minority which imposed racial segregation (apartheid) against the majority black community. As a result, non-whites were restricted from political positions and received public services that were inferior in quality.
In 1964, Mandela was arrested for sabotage when the ANC started to campaign for violence. The 90s sparked the period when Mandela achieved great strides to change South Africa’s system for good. By virtue of his peaceful method to end apartheid, he was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993. South Africa won a great victory in 1994 when Mandela successfully earned the presidency in the first multi-racial elections.
Mandela was an active campaigner against HIV/Aids after completing his single term in 1999. He also served as peace negotiator for many nations that were in conflict.
Fellow apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu summed up Mandela’s significance to the South African nation by saying he was ‘not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised.’