How Iran’s Islamic revolution inspire South Africa’s Nelson Mandela
There are very few people in the modern world that are venerated by almost everyone. July 18th is named after one of those figures; a man who devoted his entire life to establishing justice in society and eventually managed to change the course of the 20th century. A man who no matter what he went through always made sure to put humanity before his own interests.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela started life as a tribal village boy in South Africa on July18, 1918. As an innocent young boy all he wanted was to explore the world and enjoy nature while playing with his peers. His days of joy did not last long as soon he was met with the harrowing realities of the country he was living in.
As a black boy that belonged to the lowest social class in South Africa, Mandela’s first personal experience with an apartheid system happened on the first day of elementary school. The young boy was not allowed to receive education under his own identity. He was instead given a white name so he would not have to be called by his “uncivilized” African one.
Mandela might have not fully grasped he was living under an unapologetically apartheid system when he was 7, but he could very evidently tell that he was being discriminated against. The first chapter of Mandela’s fight against oppression began during his college years.
He started a law degree at the University of Fort Hare which was the only place in South Africa where black people could pursue higher education. Mandela became an activist there and at one point he even got expelled from college for organizing a student boycott.
As a young lawyer Mandela joined the African National Congress, an organization formed to fight for the rights of black South Africans, and a year later in 1945 he helped found its Youth League which was dedicated to mass action based on strikes, boycotts, and civil disobedience. Despite Mandela’s distain towards violence, he eventually had to embrace armed struggle to stop the apartheid regime of South Africa.
The decision came after the government killed 69 unarmed protesters in what’s now known as the Sharpeville massacre. The African activist addressed his people in a newspaper, asking them to get ready for a new era of fighting: “Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days”.
Mandela got jailed by the Apartheid regime several times. He spent a total of 27 years in prison and despite the harsh and inhumane conditions he had to endure, he always stood pat on his beliefs and values. By the late 1970s the unshakable activist had become a symbol of South African oppression causing several campaigns to be set up around the world asking for his freedom.
The South African government was eventually forced to release Mandela in 1991. Three years later, South Africa's first non-racial elections were held and Mandela was elected president. He served his country for five years during which he stayed true to his mottos of human rights and justice.
Read full article at Tehran Times