Mandela and Education – How it shaped his life and beliefs
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black chief executive and one of the World’s most respected and influential leaders.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities. He was initially committed to non-violent protest though later led a sabotage campaign against the government. In 1962, he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1975 he began his autobiography, which was smuggled to London, but remained unpublished at the time; prison authorities discovered several pages, and his study privileges were stopped for four years. Instead he devoted his spare time to gardening and reading until he resumed his LLB degree studies in 1980.
Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid international pressure and growing fear of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist, while those on the radical left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters. Conversely, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize.