With these words, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, summarized the era that has come to an end today. Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013), former president of South Africa and Peace Nobel prize winner of 1993, has died at the age of 95 after suffering months in illness.
Mandela had passed away in his residency with close family members, where he spent his last weeks following a stay at intensive care in a private clinic in Pretoria. He had there been treated because of severe lung problems. These probably resulted from a never completely cured tuberculosis, which Mandela got infected with during his 17 year long incarceration at Robben Island, Cape Town.
Although the long period of illness had prepared people around the world for the death of Nelson Mandela, the news shocked South Africans. Instant responses worldwide through social networks or spontaneous prayers show what an extraordinary and iconic person Mandela was. His significant dedication to peace and equality might only be comparable to Mahatma Ghandi. As a politician he had fought for the end of the apartheid in South Africa with all of his power, regardless of threats to his own safety or well being. This was the reason why he had to spend long years in prison.
When he was released on February 11th 1990 after five years of stern negotiations with the apartheid regime, his effort paid off. A peaceful transition of power took place and Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa. Even though he had spent nearly twenty years living in terrible conditions held captured by the regime, he forgave his tormentors surprisingly to the public.
Even though Mandela is not among us any more, his legacy will remind us of what it takes to fight for freedom and equality. We can learn a lot from his life, and maybe should also start thinking about we can do to peacefully topple repressive regimes, and to free all those people suffering from them.