Celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18
On July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela was born in the South African settlement of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape. His father, Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, served as the chief counselor to acting Thembu monarch Jongintaba, and his mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni. Nelson Mandela’s father died when he was 12 years old in 1930, and the Great Place of Jongintaba in Mqhekezweni adopted him as a ward.
He had aspirations of helping his people in their quest for independence during the resistance movements, motivated by the courage of his forebears and the stories of his elders.
He received his primary education at the local school in Qunu, where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, following a tradition of giving all school children “Christian” names, named him Nelson. He continued his studies at Clarkebury Boarding Institute, and later attended the prestigious Wesleyan College in Healdtown, where he completed his matriculation. Mandela started his pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts degree at Fort Hare University College but was dismissed after taking part in a student protest.
In the early days, Nelson Mandela faced a dilemma when he returned to Mqhekezweni with his cousin Justice. His royal guardian was livid and resorted to a stern warning – if they refused to leave for Fort Hare, he would arrange marriages for them against their will. Faced with such pressure, they made a bold decision and chose a different path.
In 1941, they took their chances and escaped to the vibrant city of Johannesburg. Life in the city was challenging, but Nelson Mandela was determined to make a living and contribute to society. He found work as a dedicated mine security guard, a job that demanded resilience and courage.
It was in Johannesburg that fate led him to meet the influential Walter Sisulu, a pivotal figure in the African National Congress (ANC). This encounter opened the doors to a world of activism and resistance against oppression.
Nelson Mandela’s passion for justice and his strong desire to fight for the rights of his people found an outlet when he got involved with Witkin, Sidelsky, and Edelman, a prominent law company. Through their publication, he began voicing his ideas and contributing his thoughts on important matters.
Little did he know that these early steps would eventually shape him into an iconic leader and a symbol of hope for millions. Nelson Mandela’s journey was marked by courage, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of justice, as he played a pivotal role in South Africa’s struggle for freedom and equality.
While pursuing his LL.B. at the University of Witwatersrand, he also pursued a B.A. at the University of South Africa. He identified himself as a lousy student during this period and left the institution in 1952 without earning his degree.
Mandela returned to the University of London in 1962 after spending time there both inside and outside of jail, but he once more failed to finish his degree.
Finally, he earned his LL.B degree from the University of South Africa in 1989, during the final few months of his incarceration. He received his diploma in his place at a ceremony in Cape Town.
Nelson Mandela’s educational journey was fraught with obstacles and setbacks, yet he never wavered in his commitment to his people and their independence.
The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the Republic of India, is a beacon of honor and recognition. Established on January 2, 1954, it shines a light on exceptional achievements in literature, science, public services, and the arts. This prestigious award transcends all barriers of gender, caste, or age, symbolizing its inclusivity for every citizen of India.
In its early days, the Bharat Ratna was bestowed upon a select few, but in December 2011, its scope widened. Now, it embraces accomplishments from every realm of human endeavor, applauding the efforts of individuals who have contributed remarkably to the progress and prosperity of our nation.
To be adorned with the Bharat Ratna is to be celebrated as a true luminary. It stands as a testament to the dedication and commitment of those who have left an indelible mark on the fabric of our society. As it sparkles brightly, it serves as an inspiration for future generations, instilling in them the spirit to aim for greatness and work towards creating a brighter future for our diverse and vibrant nation.