Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, also known by his traditional xhosa clan name "Madiba," (a term of endearment and respect), freedom-fighter, political prisoner, statesman, reconciler, and the first democratically-elected president of South Africa made his transition at the age of 95 on December 5th South Africa's time and December 6th, 2013 United States' calendar time.
For many years Mandela was a leader of the African National Congress (ANC), a political organization that engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle against the white government of South Africa. In 1962 Mandela and a number of other ANC members who were trained in gueilla warfare and committed to radical activism were convicted for treason and sabatoge and in 1964 he was sentenced to life in prison. Subsequently, he spent 18 years on Robben Island, 6 years in Polls Moor Prison and 3 years at Victor Verster Prison. He was released from prison in 1990. The ANC was not a non-violent organization. Many blacks were murdered by whites. The ANC demonstarted that it had a responsible-oriented approach that employed violence and nonviolence to protect black Africans, mainly from white law enforcement employees.
During the 27 years Mandela was in prison there were people in many parts of the world calling for the death of apartheid in South Africa and the release of Mandela from prison. In this regard, in America, much credit is due the Congressional Black Caucus whose efforts accounted for the U.S. Congress to enact a Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 that would impose sanctions against the government of South Africa. President Ronald Regan vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act as he joined with Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC), Strom Thurmond (R-S.C), and Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and Rep Dick Cheney (R-Wyo) who fought in Congress to prevent its passage. Three years later South Africa would be forced to dismanle apartheid because of economic sanctions by the United States and some other countries.
Mandela was released from prison in February of 1990 and in 1994 he became the South Africa's first democratically-elected president. I was a resident of Los Angeles in June of 1990 when Mandela made his first visit to that city and one of the more than 75,000 people who gathered at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to hear him speak. Three years later when he visited Los Angeles he met with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, Rep. Maxine Waters and Rev. Cecil Murray who represented the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of which I, at the time, was recording secretary.
Shortly after Mandela's first visit to Los Angeles I sent him a copy of my book, "The Mutuality Warrior" and an article of tribute to him that I had written for the "Full Life Magazine."
Let us not forget that Mandela, like Martin Luther King, Jr., would not have been able to lead successfully, i.e., effectively, had it not been for people who created a climate that was conducive to change that, in part, resulted from a resolve to meet violence with violence. Mandela was a leader par excellence and I believe his legacy will live in perpetuity
Copyright 2013 by Uriah J. Fields.