Nelson Mandela's Life: Lessons for the youth

Nelson Mandela

He was born in July 18th 1918 at Mvezo , a tiny Village on the banks of the Mbashe River in South Africa. His name Rolihlahla, was the Xhosa way of saying ‘’Pulling the branch of a tree, ‘’ or ‘’trouble maker’’. But his family called him Buti, his father’s name, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa of the Mandela family.

Buti’s father was a chief then before he was dethroned.  As a youth, Buti was strong and smart focus and self discipline. On the first day of his Primary School, the English Teacher gave all the African children English names. Buti’s new name was Nelson. He wasn’t certain if he liked his new English name but Nelson knew he liked School, he liked learning new things and he liked the way his Father prepared him, to always be himself, focus, stand firm for what he belief is fair and right.

Not quite long his father died and Nelson moved to Mqhekezweni for learning, he squatted with his distance relative who owed debt to Nelson’s father, there Nelson met his friend Justice, the chief Son who was four years older than Nelson. Both played hard, study and went to Sunday School together. They grew strong and smart, Nelson faced a lot of challenges due to the death of his father. He would go out and tend the herds and milk the cows, he also ran errands for chief Jongintaba in other to go to School. School stood foremost in Nelson’s life. 

He want to be a counsellor to kings, like his father. Nelson had to learn more about what chief Jongintaba called the ‘’wider world’’.
Nelson needed more education and there was no know helper then, but he was determined and dedicated his time for higher goals. At last God helped him through chief Jongitaba, who sent both Justice and Nelson to the best African Schools in South Africa, they went to Clarkebury  Institute, a Thembu college.

There he started fulfilling his dream by joining Justice at Healdtown, the largest African school below the equator. When he advanced to Fort Hare, a missionary college for African scholars from all over Africa. Here he puts more effort not to be discourage and he study more, study hard but it wasn’t all work out. He became a school leader after he joined the track team, he was elected to serve on the student council. 

Picture credit: Nelson Mandela Foundation

Nelson first protest was over food but the principal expelled him for that action. When things is not getting better and for the wife chief Jongintaba wanted to marry for him, he ran away and journeyed to Johannesburg, the city of gold. Nelson was made a guard but there was no place for him to live, as Xhosa people puts it ‘’people are people through other people’’.

Nelson found a place to live with a Xhosa family in Alexandra. For him to become great and achieve his purpose in life, he did extra ordinary things, he did what other critics thought it is impossible. He apprenticed at a law firm during the day, earned a small salary, and went to school at night. These were very poor times for Nelson for five years straight, he wore a suit given to him by his boss at the law firm, the suit was patched in so many places, it was more patches than suit. 

But nothing stop Nelson from graduating from law school. He later opened, with his partner Oliver Tambo, doors to the first black law practice in Johannesburg. Nelson joined African National Congress to oppose apartheid and became strong leader of ANC. Nelson Mandela had vision for his country, for Africa, and the World at large. 

Throughout all these challenges Nelson Mandela went through, he didn’t give up, he did not allow his present situation to hinder his future, he was focus on his Creator and, God saw him through.
In 1963 he was arraigned and sentenced to life imprisonment, but still yet, he stood firm for what he believed was fair and just. On 11th February, 1990 he was released and became first black president of the new government in which all south Africa voted.

We too must endeavour to move close to our Creator, belief in yourself , think positively, be active and try and learn new things that will shape your life for good. Youth are the future of tomorrow , assuming Nelson was not disciplined and sacrifice his present for the future. He will not be world icon today. He could have become burden to the society, but Mandela stood firm and turn the impossibility possible with God’s help. 

We all know youthful time is not a time of life, it’s a state of mind. The time to be creative, the time to grow in the knowledge of our Creator, to have faith in God, and dedicate our time and life to Him. In other for the pleasure God had for us not to miss us. (Eccl. 12:1).  There was a saying that ‘’You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.’’ 

Mandela’s faith, confidence, hope kept him alive throughout the trying time and live more than his friend before he died on 5th December, 2013 at the age of 95 in Johannesburg. To stay youthful is to stay relevant, useful and contribute for the betterment of our society and the World at large. 
Think and learn from Mandela and take a step now to effect a positive change especially now Nigeria is going through many challenges, let’s do remarkable things and transform our nation. With Almighty Creator with us, all things are possible. Let’s take control and be in charge for a change.

Adieu Madiba, Adieu Tata of Africa, the World Icon.

By E.A Olatoye
Nelson Mandela's Life: Lessons for the youth Nelson Mandela's Life: Lessons for the youth Reviewed by E.A Olatoye on December 13, 2021 Rating: 5

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