The first president of the first truly democratic South Africa.
|NELSON MANDELA THE MAN
(explanatory notes below)
The Man loved his people
The Man fought for freedom
His powers of negotiation
His spirit of reconciliation
Saved us as a nation
The Nationalist Party's rule was cruel
The black man kicked aside
Don't share our schools
Don't stand in our queues
Don't sit in our parks
Don't swim in our pools
Keep out of our toilets
The back man was despised, denigrated, spat upon.
The African National Congress known as the ANC
Resisted segregation and inequality
Passive resistance was all they intended, but
As oppression of the masses sounded alarms
"Umkhonto we Sizwe" - the ANC took up arms
In 1960 the ANC was banned
Unacceptable threat to "a White Man's Land"
Now working underground
An end to the system had to be found
Humanitarianism being their reason
They risked the ultimate punishment
for committing treason
Their hideout discovered and raided
Hope for their lives quickly faded
Brought to court to hear their fate
Mandela had these words to state:
"DURING MY LIFETIME I HAVE DEDICATED MYSELF TO THE STRUGGLE OF THE AFRICAN PEOPLE. 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 IN HARMONY WITH EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES. IT IS AN IDEAL WHICH I HOPE TO LIVE FOR AND ACHIEVE. BUT IF NEEDS BE, IT IS AN IDEAL FOR WHICH I AM PREPARED TO DIE."
The judgement: High Treason
The sentence: Imprisonment for Life.
Banished to an island
Hard labour chopping rocks
His body was imprisoned
But never was his mind
ANC members in exile
Doggedly pursued the cause
Secret messages passed
Through a network of channels
Avenues persistently explored
The ANC could not be curbed
Twenty-seven years The Man had served
Mandela's name well-known abroad
His voice could now not be ignored
Relenting, South Africa's President F W de Klerk
Met with The Man behind closed doors
Over time mediators drew up plans
To heal the country's bleeding sores
The ANC was unbanned
The prison gates were opened
Mandela stepped out a hero
To the cheering of the land
Speeches were made
Respects were paid
The way to elections was laid
Previously not even a chance remote
This time each person had the right to vote
The winning party: the ANC
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: First State President of the country's first true Democracy - 1994
"Slegs blankes" - Afrikaans for "Whites Only". Afrikaans was the language spoken by most members of the ruling National Party.
Apartheid - policy of racial segregation of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party which came to power in South Africa in 1948.
"Umkhonto we Sizwe" translates into "The Spear of the Nation". It was the militant wing of the ANC.
The island where Mandela served most of his sentence is Robben Island, off Cape Town. It now attracts visitors who wish to observe the conditions under which he served and to learn about his life.
Mandela was born in in 1918.
He was one of few black people in South Africa to receive schooling and a university education.
He was a lawyer by profession.
Now ninety-four years old, he is frail.