I knew this day was coming but I was not ready and I suspect other South Africans feel the same way. Today, December 5 2013, Nelson Rholihlala Mandela, the father of the nation, passed away at the age of 95. My heart is heavy and my head is pounding as I process these news. Nelson Mandela a man who was instrumental in freeing South Africa from an apartheid government and who is responsible for the freedom I have today is no more. As I say goodbye, I also celebrate his life and his wise words and dedication will not be forgotten. Rest in peace babu Mandela.
I came across this photo essay from TIME magazine titled “A tribute to Nelson Mandela by pulitzer winner David Turnley”. The photo essay tells the story of the country’s hardships and the journey of a very special country and man. Here is the link to the TIME’s page: http://lightbox.time.com/category/photo-essay/
‘Madiba’ Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was raised in the rural Transkei, born into the Xhosa Thembu Royal family. At age 22, after studying at the prestigious Fort Hare University when the portrait in this photograph was made, ‘Madiba’ returned to the village to find that his Chieftan father had arranged marriages for him and his adopted brother, Justin. It was at this moment that Mandela, resisting, took a train to Johannesburg and was quickly catapulted into a leadership role to end apartheid. The young man in this photograph, holding the portrait of ‘Madiba’ in college, is a distant relative who lives in the village of Mqhekezweni, in the Transkei, where this original portrait still sits on the mantel of the family home.
Under the tenants of apartheid, every South African of color was stripped of South African citizenship, obligated to carry a passbook at all times and relegated to their tribal identities — all in order to ensure governance at the hands of a white minority. 1994.
A worker plays the guitar with his daughter on a Sunday morning before he goes to work as a field hand. The father works 60 hours a week for a salary of $30 a month. Orange Free State, South Africa. 1986.
A South African mother travels with her children in a segregated train car. 1986
As their leader Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for life for his aspirations of a non-racist, non-sexist democratic South Africa, it was common that hundreds of thousands of black South Africans would congregate in a township somewhere in the country each weekend to protest apartheid and to mourn the deaths of loved ones killed protesting.
Nelson Mandela was sent to Robben Island with a life sentence for treason for his participation in the African National Congress (ANC) in 1964. He spent 19 of his 27 years in this prison cell on Robben Island, and the remaining years on the mainland on the edge of Cape Town in Pollsmoor Prison.
Winnie Mandela fell in love with and married Nelson Mandela when she was 24 years old. They had two children — both girls — during the two years before Mandela went to prison. Winnie herself was placed in solitary confinement for 18 months and was banished for nine years under house arrest in Brandfort. Through it all, Winnie remained the public persona of her husband. 1986
The world looked on as international hero Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years on Feb. 11, 1990, with his wife, Winnie. At 6’3″ tall, “Madiba” and his presence met the stature that the world had expected.
Sitting with Walter Sisulu, who had spent 27 years in prison with Mandela, just minutes after his release, they confer seconds before Mandela made his first public speech to the world.
The morning after Mandela’s release from prison, he returned to his one-bedroom, cinder-block home that only recently had indoor plumbing, where he and Winnie had started their life with two daughters 27 years earlier.
Madiba sits in the backyard in front of the international press corps with his beloved wife, Winnie, the day after his release from prison.
Mandela campaigns for the presidency of South Africa in the Zulu area of KwaZulu-Natal. 1994.