After a long struggle with a recurring lung infection, Mandela died on December 5. He had turned 95 in July.
Mandela—or Madiba, as South Africans affectionately call him—was a significant leader and symbol of the anti-apartheid movement. As he completed his university education, he became increasingly aware of the inequality between blacks and whites in South Africa. In 1944, he joined the African National Congress to protest the oppressive and racist policies of ruling National Party’s apartheid regime. Mandela was continuously jailed and forced into hard labour for his attempts to bring about political change in South Africa.
When, in 1964, the court sentenced him to life in prison, Mandela gave a statement from the dock that inspired thousands. He proclaimed, “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 for which I am prepared to die.” Mandela’s reputation grew as he spent time in prison, never compromising his political principles for an early release.
Mandela was released in 1990 and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his considerable efforts in leading the anti-apartheid movement. He become the first democratically elected state president in 1994 and worked tirelessly to initiate a peace and reconciliation process and improve the lives of South Africans till his death.
Read below the statement from the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Nelson Mandela: “An example for us all to keep working for love and peace”
(December 6, 2013)—We six Nobel peace laureates—Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Karman and Rigoberta Menchú Tum—join the world in mourning the passing of the great peacemaker and profoundly inspirational leader, Nelson Mandela. His lesson for all of us is that action is more important than words, and love is ultimately more powerful than hate. Working together, we can change the world –and bring peace, with justice and equality.
Here are personal messages from two of our laureates:
“Africa has lost a great leader. The peace movement has lost a great mentor. The political leadership of Africa has lost an icon. Nelson Mandela’s passing has left a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew him. He epitomizes the spirit of generosity, which is what the world sorely needs. Let us mark his passing as a moment of reflection on how to transform the pull for revenge into the triumph of reconciliation. He has already shown us the way. “ – Leymah Gbowee, Nobel peace laureate, 2011.
“Nelson Mandela’s spirit touched the lives of us all. His great charisma and sense of joy and fun made us all want to laugh and believe in his great vision of peace and reconciliation. He touched our souls and made us believe in ourselves, and ineach other. His great spirit will live on to inspire not only his family and those he loved and the people of Africa, but also the world. His life and spirit will continue to be an example for us all to keep working for love and peace in our world. Deo Gracias for the life of Nelson Mandela. “ – Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, 1977.
Madiba, I let you go, Daily Maverick, April 3, 2013.
Nelson Mandela, Nobel Prize