“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is
always ripe to do right.”
Those were the words of Nelson Mandela, (1918-2013), who became the first black South African to become president of South Africa. His journey to the presidency and his life long struggle for equality for all South Africans is truly noteworthy and is a standard to live by. His work included dismantling the legacy of apartheid, tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and fostering a national racial reconciliation.
Mandela, who attended the Fort Hare University and the University of Witswatersrand, studied law. He rose to prominence in the African National Congress (ANC) and participated in various campaigns to stand against the oppressive apartheid government. In 1962, he was arrested and convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state government and was sentenced to life imprisonment. After serving 27 years in various prisons, including Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster, he was released in 1990. His release came in part due to the growing international campaign that lobbied for his release as well as the effects of international sanctions.
Under his remarkable leadership, he was able to usher in a new age for South Africa and the world. During his one term as president he promulgated a new national constitution, created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses, land reform, combat poverty, unemployment and expand healthcare services. As a result of his leadership he was able to lift the international sanctions and restore the country’s status as part of the United Nations.
Even through much of his life Mandela was considered a controversial figure, he gained international acclaim for his activism and philanthropy. In all he received