human rights
nelson mandela
south africa
December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013


Shelby: First up today, the world is honoring the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, a former South African president and a civil rights hero. Keith is here with the details.

Keith: That is right, Shelby. Last night, Nelson Mandela passed away at his home at the age of 95.

President Obama: We’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth. He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.

Keith: The first black American president honoring the first black South African president.

Nelson Mandela was an icon, a man who emerged from his tiny South African village to become a defining figure of our time. He was born on July 18th, 1918 in a village called Mvezo. His mother named him Rolihlahla, meaning ‘troublemaker.’ But later, a school teacher renamed him Nelson. He moved to Johannesburg at the age of 23.

Mandela became one of the nation’s first black lawyers and joined the opposition African National Congress in 1942, devoting himself to peacefully ending apartheid, the government’s system of racial segregation and discrimination against blacks.

Then in 1960, after sixty-nine peaceful black protesters were killed by white South African police, Mandela decided the path to justice was violence.

Nelson Madela: There are many people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence against a government whose reply is only savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people.

Keith: He was arrested in 1962 and later sentenced to life for sabotage and conspiracy. He was imprisoned for 27 years. Then on February 11th, 1990, at the age of 71, Nelson Mandela walked free.

Obama: The day he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set.

Keith: Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, ‘prison made the man.’

Desmond Tutu: A fairly robust and aggressive young militant became a generous, understanding person.

Mandela: I cherish the idea of a new South Africa where all South Africans are equal.

Keith: Later that same year, Mandela and the South African president who freed him, F.W. De Klerk, shared the Nobel peace prize. A year after that, Mandela became South Africa’s president.

Mandela: Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let freedom ring. God bless Africa. I thank you.

Keith: Mandela chose to serve only one term. But he became a global symbol of the struggle for justice, a political prisoner who became a president and saved his South African nation.

After leaving office, Mandela traveled the world, repairing South Africa’s image and promoting tolerance.

Shelby: Thanks, Keith.

For photos from Mandela’s life and to learn more about his country, check out


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