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From learning to earning the title as a 'leader': Nelson Mandela

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From learning to earning the title as a 'leader'

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the clan of Madiba, in the village of Mvezo, Transkei, on July 18, 1918. He was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and a philanthropist. He served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. During his term, he focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid and also dealt with racism, poverty and inequality.

He was the first black chief executive in South Africa and the first person to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. He was an democratic soicalist and served as the President of the African National Congress from 1991-97. He was also the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998-99.

People who influenced Mandela

His early life was dominated by "custom, ritual and taboo"; Mandela grew up be a leader, inheriting his father's "proud rebelliousness" and "stubborn sense of fairness."

In 1937, he joined the Methodist college in Fort Beaufort, where his headmaster emphasised the superiority of English culture and government. Mandela became increasingly interested in native African culture, and made his first non-Xhosa friend, coming the under influence of one of his favourite teachers - a Xhosa who broke taboo by marrying a Sotho.

Mandela's mother entrusted Mandela under guardianship of Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo of Thembu regent. Mandela was treated as their own child by the Chief and his wife. Mandela developed a love of African history and became influenced by the anit-imperialist rhetoric of the Chief.

Once he became involved in the ANC, there was no looking back in Nelson Mandela's life. He was increasingly influenced by Sisulu, and spent much time at his Orlando house, with other activists, which included his old friend Oliver Tambo.

Mandela's Achievements

Mandela is a man who stood firm and took his country from the extremes of apartheid to democracy. For this, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1993).

Mandela lead a controversial life, but he nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism. He has received more than 250 honours including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin.

He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation".

Mandela's quotes on education

Two quick quotes from Mandela on education give an indication of how important he considered education:

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

From a young boy, schooled for royalty, to political activist, to prisoner, to President, to honoured scholar and statesman, Nelson Rolihlahla has done so much for the world without expecting anything in return. It is little wonder that July 18 (his birthday) has been named as 'Mandela Day'. With all the awards, honorary degrees and accolades, Nelson Mandela's achievements have been many, certainly more than most men would achieve in a lifetime.

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