Today the world celebrates the life and legacy of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela! See below The UN held an informal meeting to mark the observance of “Nelson Mandela International Day”, during which the 2020 UN Nelson Mandela Prize was awarded to Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis of Greece and Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea. The Deputy Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly delivered remarks at this event. Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, delivered the keynote address.

Born Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela, his fighting spirit began to blossom as a child when he was stripped of his name and identity by his schoolteacher – who gave every child an English name. At the time of his youth, apartheid was alive and well in South Africa. This was their legislation system that separated whites from non-whites and would determine where you could live, work, travel, go to school, and live your daily life. This caused blacks to feel like second-class citizens with less resources available and not that much help. His father however, was a former chief of the Thembu people which gave him access to the country’s only university for Black people, the University of Fort Hare! It was there that his love for activism truly began!

Why was Mandela so famous? His fight against apartheid was done in true grace and style! He was a member of the African National Congress or the ANC whose main goal was to fight for voting rights, and the end of separation/discrimination against non-whites. They demonstrated peacefully in protests to raise awareness for their concerns, but were not being heard. Things took a change in 1952, when Mandela became a leader of the Defiance Campaign- which encouraged Blacks to actively violate laws! This included taking actions like entering the European sections of the post offices, sitting on benches marked for whites, and more engagements that led to the “largest scale non-violent resistance ever seen in South Africa.”

This led Mandela to being arrested and imprisoned for 27 years! Before he was released in 1990, Mandela began negotiating with the government to end apartheid that ultimately helped deescalate a civil war.  His journey to freedom led him to become the country’s first black AND democratically elected president. See below the Town Hall that changed what the world THOUGHT they knew about Nelson Mandela.

Celebrate Nelson Mandela Day

Do something nice for a family member, friend, or your community! Find ideas here! 


National Geographic

South African History Online

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