Nelson Mandela is indeed an icon to many. He endured personal sacrifice for the greater good of his fellow man. He stood strong in the face of adversity and firm in his resolve to see injustice challenged and conquered. Mandela championed the cause of fairness and justice, forgave magnanimously and lead with empathy and tolerance.
Seemingly impossible for one man to achieve? Perhaps not. Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is noted as saying, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. And indeed, the task that lay ahead of Mandela may have seemed insurmountable initially – seemingly impossible – yet ultimately…”it was done”! Nelson Mandela led the African National Congress. The ANC was largely a black movement that opposed South Africa’s white minority government and the policy of Apartheid, that the government endorsed and legislated. It was a battle that Mandela championed, initially non-violently. He later however, advocated acts of sabotage against the government in an endeavor to see justice and freedom for all South Africans becoming a reality. Nelson was imprisoned in in 1962 for the role that he played in these acts of sabotage and so began a twenty-seven year incarceration at the infamous Robben Island maximum security prison. Mandela spent much of his confinement engaged in hard labor under often untenable conditions.
Confined in a maximum security prison, isolated from the rest of the world and the international community? His dream must have seemed impossible! Yet still he prevailed! Even when he was offered the opportunity of a pardon and freedom if he were to renounce violence, Mandela stood firm in his resolve. He became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement among the international community and the South African black population.