Thursday, December 5, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

Photo Rugby World Cup
The country of South Africa and the world has lost one of its greatest ever people today as former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 in Johannesburg. Argentina 2023 sends its condolences to the Mandela family, to South Africa and the Springboks.  

Born in 1918 on South Africa´s Eastern Cape, Mandela is, without question, the most influential person from South Africa and had a lasting impact on ending the shameful past in which South Africa was divided according to color. Mandela dedicated his life to ending apartheid and after decades of struggle he was able to see the shackles of repression come to an end in the 1990s.

Mandela was charged with high treason by the South African government in 1956 but after a four year trial the charges were dropped. He had been a leader in the anti-apartheid movement following joining the African National Congress in 1943. While Europe was engulfed in a war centred on ending the tyranny of Nazi Germany South Africa had an elected government which gave different rights to its people depending on the color of their skin. 

Such were the times that Mandela´s fight continued for many additional years after being clared of treason. Mandela was arrested again in 1962 and convicted for leaving the country without a passport and inciting anti-governmental movements in the country. Such was democracy in South Africa that the vast majority were not able to vote due to lacking pale skin. 

Having been sentenced to five years in prison in 1962 Mandela was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 and he remained incarcerated until his release in 1990. The international community took too long to respond to the appalling regime in the country but with time it did and rugby was part of the opposition as countries eventually stopped playing test rugby against the Springboks. With Mandela free South Africa returned to play international rugby in 1992 and hosted the Rugby World Cup three years later. 

Upon being released Mandela became the central figure in the creation of a new democratic South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected as the first black present in 1994. He stepped down from the post in 1999 and two years later was diagnosed with cancer. His death in 2013 came after his country had been able to win the World Cup for a second time and the domestic politics had seen an entirely different country established from the ruins of a tragic past.

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