Nelson Mandela


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In the spirit of Mandela Day, we took a walk down memory lane, to not only read about this truly remarkable man, but also to use Nelson Mandela’s life lessons as a template for some of the paths we’ve undertaken

Of the many things Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela held closely to his heart, namely: human rights; education; children’s rights; passion for sports (as a tool to heal and unite our nation). Human rights shall be the first point we touch on.

Human Rights for all

We are reminded by the quote below, of the darker times our beautiful country, and people once had to endure, of the long walk to freedom that we made. The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), were a tool of negotiation between the then government, organizations and political parties of South Africa, striving toward a better government and living measures for people of all races in the country inter alia.

The question that faces us all is, how long can we, who claim to be the leaders of our people sit here, talk eloquently, spin out complicated formulae and enjoy the applause while the country sinks deeper and deeper into crisis…?

– Nelson Mandela (at the second session of CODESA), the African Law Review

Wits Archived Image

(Image Source: Wits Archives)


One of Nelson Mandela’s most prolific quotes on education is: “it is not beyond our powers to create a world where all children have access to good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations.” The above mentioned quote amplifies Mandela’s true dedication to the cause of education. We too at the Black Lawyers Association – Legal Education Centre have taken a leaf from this great man’s page, we are in constant pursuit and dedication of education. Our primary focus is educating those who were previously disadvantaged through the policies of the previous apartheid government. Additionally, to make the legal profession accessible to those who lacked adequate resources to practise and economically partake in it. We realize this goal through our legal education training programmes, and community outreach educational initiatives. In 2007 the Nelson Mandela Institute was founded to circumvent the educational crisis in rural Africa

Education is key

(Image source: Zalebs)

The current status on education in South African

Section 29 (1) b hinges on the realisation of this right to further education, against the availability which is afforded by the state, to the public. Is this a feasible right currently?

2015 marked the year where we saw the youth of South Africa in universities take a stand against exorbitant tuition fees. These protests known as the #NationalShutdown and #FeesMustFall gave rise to other ancillary issues of concern, like the language policies around South African institutions of higher learning

Which raises the question, has the Mandela legacy been given effect to? Should the youth and children of this country be out on the streets pleading for their rights and access to higher education? If not them, then whom should the responsibility lie with?

Which raises the question, has the Mandela legacy been given effect to? Should the youth and children of this country be out on the streets pleading for their rights and access to higher education? If not them, then whom should the responsibility lie with?

The enforcement of Children’s Rights

Through his dedication to children’s rights, the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund was set up with the aim of changing the way society treats its children and youth. This long-term vision captures the central role society plays in shaping children’s lives, with a mission set out to give a voice and dignity to the African child by building a rights-based movement

Additionally, in 2005 he was awarded the World’s Children’s Prize (for the rights of the child) and elected Decade Child Rights Hero in 2009 respectively. He was awarded these accolades for his continued, unwavering commitment to children’s rights in South Africa


The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital construction has been completed, it is reported that the official opening is scheduled for December this year. The aim of the hospital as per Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund CEO Sibongile Mkhabela, is the notion that no child should be turned away due to an inability to pay

Nelson Mandela on Sport as a uniting tool, for the nation

Nelson Mandela was an avid, enthusiastic boxer. He took up the sport initially for its recreational merits, however later on he found that it was an outlet that could help channel his energies, and it gave him great discipline

Another iconic image, which will be forever engrained in our history, is the lifting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Trophy by the late Mandela, uTata Madiba as he is affectionately known.

Nelson Mandela has gifted us with his legacy, the baton is now passed on to us, what legacies are we striving towards?

Nelson Mandela

(Image source: The National)

Nelson Mandela

(Image Source:
“Boxing is an egalitarian sport”

*Further Reading

The Nelson Mandela Tourist App:
BLA-LEC Blog Archive: “One man can change the world, Nelson Mandela taught us so”
BLA-LEC Blog Archive: “Language Matters”
BLA-LEC Blog Archive: “The Progressive Realisation of Socio-economic Rights ‘#FeesMustFall’ ’’

“One man, can change the world” – Nelson Mandela taught us so.

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Nelson Mandela - 1937

We’ve read compelling, inspiring, laudatory stories of the prolific late Nelson Mandela. He is a man whose story needs to be continuously told, over and over. This is our turn, to show our appreciation of the great struggle stalwart.

Born on the 18th of July 1918, in Mvezo the Eastern Cape he would go on to become a global icon, celebrated by many loved and adored by nations. A man of many talents a ward of Jongintaba Dalindyebo, lawyer, boxer, freedom fighter to name but a few. He certainly left behind a legacy.

Brief history bite on Nelson Mandela, he matriculated at a Wesleyan secondary school and read for his Bachelor of Arts degree at Fort Hare University, yet after joining a student protest he was expelled. His leadership traits, and desire for emancipation are evidenced here. He would then take the pilgrimage to Johannesburg in 1941, which bring about much of the interactions of his career and political life. He joined the African National Congress in 1944.

Nelson Mandela

In 1952 he established South Africa’s 1st black law firm, ‘Mandela and Tambo‘ with Oliver Tambo and was able to practice law with a 2 year diploma in law in addition to his BA which he managed to complete.

Much later on proving that life is, indeed all about learning, whilst in prison for his active participation in the struggle for emancipation during South Africa’s Apartheid era at the now infamous ‘Treason Trial’, he eventually obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa in 1989. A very interesting fact that about Nelson Mandela, is that he used an Ethiopian passport for travel purposes.

In 1990 on the 11th of February on a splendidly sunny day, he was released from prison and was immersed and exposed to instant stardom. However he was a man of humble means, and always gave himself tirelessly to the liberation struggle and children’s foundations during his tenure as President of South Africa and post Presidency. He was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President on the 10th of May 1994.

One of his greatest quotes:

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities…

May that quote live within us and our work.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in his honour.

Nelson Mandela

Read more on his life on the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is a hub of the great man’s life and life’s work here.