How did the young Nelson Mandela, a radical, hothead and freedom fighter, become a worldwide icon of peace?by Justice Malala / February 20, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
A Johannesburg mural: when Mandela joined, the ANC was “a rich black man’s debating society.” He went on to form its military wing © AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
They were singing freedom songs in Soweto that morning. A common, mournful tune, sung in the Sesotho language, was among the more popular as dawn approached: “Nelson Mandela! Nelson Mandela! Ha hona ya tshwanang le ena! No one compares to him!”
Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s greatest and most famous son, had passed away at 8.50pm local time on 5th December, President Jacob Zuma announced. A hush fell over the nation, and then a cacophony of commentary and tributes poured in from world leaders around the globe. Speeches were made, and sadness shared, everywhere from Washington to London. Outside Mandela’s family home in Johannesburg crowds gathered; tears covered every face—and smiles, too.