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R.I.P + EXCLUSIVE ::: The faith of Nelson Mandela + His Profile

The world slept and woke up to the news of the demise of one of Africa's notable leading figures, Nelson Mandela. 

He is known for his bravery in fighting down apartheid in his native country and his benevolence and calm mein has endeared him to many people all over the world and from generation to generation.
We join to say Rest in Peace to this noble leader and do enjoin you to read this post in memory of him.

Nelson Mandela is one of the world's most revered figures.  Imprisoned in South Africa for 27 years, he rose from prisoner to president, leading his nation from 1994 to 1999.  It is believed that he suffered lung damage while working in a prison quarry; he also contracted tuberculosis in the 1980's while being held at windswept Robben Island.  After retiring from public life in 2004, he has been rarely seen in public.

We know about his fight against apartheid and triumphant election as South Africa's first black president.  But what about his personal faith?

In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela tells the story of his early engagement with Christianity: "The Church was as concerned with this world as the next: I saw that virtually all of the achievements of Africans seemed to have come about through the missionary work of the Church."  As a result, Mandela became a member of the Students Christian Association and taught Bible classes on Sundays in nearby villages.

A few weeks before he was elected South Africa's president, he gave a speech at a Christian church's Easter conference.  After reading the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), he began by praising God for "the Good News borne by our risen Messiah who chose not one race, who chose not one country, who chose not one language, who chose not one tribe, who chose all of humankind!"  He consistently proclaimed his commitment to Christ as his Lord throughout his adult life.

                                                          With Soweto Gospel Choir

As his health declined, Mandela's daughter told an interviewer, "All we do every day is take one day at a time and pray to the good Lord."  Makaziwe Mandela said that her father was at peace, and that the family hoped for a peaceful transition: "All I pray for as a daughter is that the transition is smooth. . . . He is at peace with himself.  He has given so much to the world.  I believe he is at peace."

So do I.  In his Easter conference speech, Mandela proclaimed, "Each Easter marks the rebirth of our faith.  It marks the victory of our risen Savior over the torture of the cross and the grave."  Soon that victory over the grave will come to Nelson Mandela.  God's promise will come true for him: "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

The same God delights in you as well.  Whether you are a president or a prisoner, what matters is not where you are but whose you are.  Is your identity today based on earth's opinion or heaven's promise?

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: BIOGRAPHY/PROFILE ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Former South African president, Rolihlahla Mandela, was born on 18 July 1918 in a small village in the Transkei called Mvezo.  Later he was sent to school in the small town of Qunu where a teacher gave him the name 'Nelson'.

Although of royal lineage, Mandela was the only member of his family to receive formal education, and so, from a very young age, he started to unwittingly prepare himself for the great task that lay ahead.  

In 1939, he enrolled at Fort Hare (the only black university in South Africa at the time) where he forged lifelong friendships with many of those who fought the struggle for freedom with him. He was expelled from university a year later for his political activities but later completed his studies through UNISA. 

From 1942 onwards he became increasingly active within the African National Congress whilst working as an apprentice at a legal firm in Johannesburg and furthering his studies. He later started the first black legal firm, Mandela and Tambo, with friend and fellow activist Oliver Tambo in 1952.

During this time, Mandela's natural authority and strategic mind saw him start to emerge as one of the party's leaders and a proponent of the armed struggle, a role that led to several arrests and brushes with the law during the 1950s Defiance Campaign.

But Mandela's luck finally ran out on August 5 in 1962 when he was arrested outside the town of Howick in KwaZulu-Natal, disguised as a chauffeur, after having paid a secret visit to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli who was living in Groutville under house arrest.

Mandela had been on the run for 17 months and had just returned from a trip through Africa where he had received military training and to London where he went to seek support for the ANC.  

This arrest was the start of what was to become a 27-year incarceration during which he would become the most famous political prisoner in the world and emerge as the future president of South Africa. 

Initially, he was sentenced for five years for leaving the country illegally and incitement but then came the Rivonia Trial during which he was sentenced to life, starting his incarceration on Robben Island on June 13 in 1964.

At the closing of the Rivonia trial, Nelson Mandela uttered these famous words on behalf of his co-accused: "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this 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 together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

And when he emerged from prison in 1990, his most remarkable feat was that he was able to lead the country without bitterness about the past whilst living out his ideal of creating a non-racial country where everybody was treated with the same dignity. 

And that is why, decades after South Africa's first democratic election, every South African and every freedom lover around the world still holds Nelson Mandela, or Madiba (his clan name), in the highest regard.

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