Object of the Month: Nelson Mandela freedom banner
This month’s object of the month is a banner made by Thalia Campbell with the words “Nelson Mandela Freedom at 70” stitched onto it. The zero of the 70 has the logo of the Anti-Apartheid movement inside it as a yin and yang symbol. The banner was carried by world leaders at the head of the Nelson Mandela Freedom rally protest march in 1988, a march organised by the Anti-Apartheid movement as a 70th birthday tribute to Mandela. This month marks the release of Mandela in February 1990 after 27 years of imprisonment.
Who is Nelson Mandela?
Nelson Mandela was a civil rights leader in South Africa. He fought against apartheid, a system where non-white citizens were segregated from whites and did not have equal rights. This resulted in Mandela having to spent majority of his life in prison for his protests and consequently becoming a symbol for his people. Upon release he became the president of South Africa.
Imprisonment and release
Mandela spent 27 years in prison. He refused to bend on his principals in order to be released and stated that he would die for his ideals. He wanted all people of all races to have equal rights in South Africa. Mandela’s release followed the relaxation of apartheid laws – including the unbanning of leading liberation organisations by the then South African President FW de Klerk.
Winner of Noble Peace prize
The Nobel Peace Prize 1993 was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.
How Nelson Mandela altered life today and promoted peace:
Equal Rights: Nelson Mandela was a crucial player in the civil rights movement in South Africa, as the white minority rule left the black population in South Africa without basic freedoms and political rights. Mandela spent 27 long years in jail and was freed in 1990 at the age of 71 after a worldwide campaign pressured the regime in charge at the time to release him. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy,” Mandela once said. “Then he becomes your partner.”
Democracy in South Africa: Prior to Nelson Mandela’s efforts, South Africa was not a democracy. Courtesy of his efforts, the nation is now one of the most progressive democracies in the world. This one step helped South Africa remove itself from many embargo lists from nations around the world, including the United States. Mandela then rightfully earned himself the title of being the South African president and in his 1994 inauguration speech, shared his wish for the nation to be “a rainbow nation.”
Written by Mehreena Gulastan (Placement student)