Mass Mutual and NewsOne join together to present 28 dynamic people that make up the diverse tapestry of Black History. For the entire month of February, Black History Month, we will feature one Person of the Day and highlight their lives and achievements.
Nelson Mandela will live on as a shining example of resilience, justice, and Black liberation in not just South Africa, but also for the world. As the leading figure of the anti-apartheid movement, Mandela’s inspirational fight against the ruling class of his country inspired the world.
Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela into the royal Thembu family on July 18, 1918, with his first name translating into “troublemaker.” As a result of colonization, he was given the English name Nelson when he was very young by a teacher. After entering into college and becoming exposed to the capitalism of South Africa, Mandela would join the African National Congress (ANC) party in the 1940s.
An infamous portion of Mandela’s life would be his involvement in the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe and his eventual arrest which led to a trial where he was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state. Mandela served a staggering 27 years in prison, rising to become an icon during that turbulent time. After the failing health of National Party president P.W. Botha gave rise to F.W. de Klerk, Mandela’s freedom would come after the ANC and other opposing parties were no longer illegal.
The end of apartheid then set into motion the historic South African general election of 1994, where Mandela would become elected the country’s first Black president. For five years, Mandela continued to undo years of apartheid’s oppressive rule and bring balance to his beloved homeland. Mandela left politics behind, getting involved in HIV/AIDS awareness, philanthropy and other pursuits.
After a long illness, Mandela died last December at the age of 95.