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NELSON MANDELA 1918 to 2013 The Journey of a Liberator...

LIBERATION YEARS

The world has recognized Mandela’s huge achievement in helping to bring down South African apartheid and great personal sacrifices he made including spending nearly three decades caged up for his part in the struggle to liberate his people. Mandela popularly known by his clan name Madiba joined the African National Congress (ANC) when he was only 25 years old.

His political career would span decades. He attended the Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics. He was instrumental in the formation of the radical ANC Youth League in the 1940s which was determined to change face of politics. He was elected the League’s National Secretary in 1948 and President in 1950.

After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign and was appointed superintendent of the organization’s Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955 Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961.

Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, in association with the South African Communist Party, leading sabotage campaigns against the apartheid government. In 1962, he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island near Cape Town.

He spent 27 years for his conviction. Released on February 11th 1990 plunged wholeheartedly into his life’s work striving to attain the goals he had set earlier.

A year later at an ANC first national congress inside South Africa he was elected ANC President and his lifelong friend Oliver Tambo became the National Chairperson.

He together with FW de Klerk were bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Madiba was inaugurated as the President of a democratic South Africa on the 10th May 1994.

MANDELA AND LOBATSE

Mandela’s first step outside South Africa during his long walk to freedom landed him outside an shabby incomplete house in the low income Peleng township in Lobatse.

The house belonged to Ntwaesele Fish Keitseng, a Kanye born trade unionist, treason trial defendant and ANC activist.  Fish joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1949 and became a leader of the Newclare Congress branch and its volunteer-in-chief during the 1952 Defiance Campaign. 

Keitseng was deported to Botswana in 1959 but the Treason Trial continued until 1961. Keitseng helped to organize “underground passage” for thousands of South Africans who went into exile, especially members of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) which was launched on 16 December 1961. This house in Peleng became the first port of call as Mandela prepared to travel throughout Africa to promote armed struggle of the ANC.

Mandela slept in the same room as Keitseng with a certain comrade Amien Cajee. With his experience of working in the ANC, in 1989, Keitseng was elected as a Botswana National Front Councilor for Babusi Ward in Gaborone City Council, and retired after the 1994 elections. Even after his retirement, Keitseng remained a respected community elder. He passed away on 28 March 2005 in Gaborone, and was buried at the Old Gaborone Cemetery.

ILL HEALTH AND DEATH

Nelson Mandela peacefully succumbed to illness on the 5th of December at around 2050hours in the company of his family. Madiba had battled ill health in the past including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations. He was discharged from hospital in September after being admitted in June and received intensive care at his Houghton home in Johannesburg, where he later died.

Hundreds of international dignitaries amongst them United States Head of State Barack Obama attended a historic memorial service at the FNB Stadium in a ceremony that mixed solemnity with joy at Mandela’s accomplishments. It lasted all morning and into the afternoon and was fit for an International Icon. Mandela was buried in his home village last month (December, 15) after a funeral that mixed tribal rituals with a display of the might of the new, integrated South Africa. Military officers, both black and white, rolled Mandela’s flag-draped coffin to the family burial plot in the village of Qunu. Formations of planes and military helicopters, South African flags flapping from the bellies flew over the green hills where thousands of mourners had gathered. The burial ended 10 days of mourning ceremonies that included a massive stadium memorial in Johannesburg and three days during which Mandela’s body lay in state in the capital, Pretoria.

MANDELA’S FAMOUS STATEMENT

uring the Rivonia Trial Mandela decided to represent himself in court. While on trial he was charged with sabotage and the following is his most famous statement he made in the dock in 1964,

"I have fought against White domination and I have fought against Black domination. 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 which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be it is an ideal for which I’m prepared to die…"

ENDS

 

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