Nelson Mandela is no more. He passed away in the night of 5th December 2013 at the ripe age of 95 at his home. He was sick for some time. The entire world is mourning for him. A large number of Heads of States and statesmen will be present at his funeral. Condolence messages are reaching in hundreds to the S.African Government and his relatives.
Who is this Nelson Mandela? Why the entire world is mourning on the death of this old man?
The democratic movement all over the world had observed “Nelson Mandela International Day” in honour of one of the greatest living legend whose 93rd birthday fell on 18th July 2011.
The history of South Africa for the last seven -eight decades is the historic struggle of Nelson Mandela and his comrades who fought against the British colonialism and the most heinous practice of apartheid. Nelson Mandela was in Robben Island prison for 27 years, denied of even the basis conveniences along with a number of leaders of the South African Congress.
The struggle for independence for South Africa has a different line from that of India. India continued the struggle on the basis of the non-violence line enunciated by Gandhiji. Gandhiji had started the same in South Africa when he was settled there as an Advocate. It continued till 1964 even after Gandhi had returned to India years ago. The attack on the agitators were so cruel and inhuman so that the SAC did not have any other choice but to adopt armed struggle against the colonial rulers. The SAC formed the military wing, and started armed struggle. The South African Communist Party was also with SAC in all the struggles. The British suppressed the same with all their military might. It was at that time that Nelson Mandela, the leader of SAC and others were put in inhuman prison in Robben Island. The struggle went on for decades. The entire world denounced the cruelty of the British. At last British Government was compelled to grant freedom and South Africa became an independent nation. Nelson Mandela was elected as its first President.
During my visit to Johannesburg to attend the Trade Union International conference I had the chance to meet the South African comrades and discuss about their struggle and the present situation. Nelson Mandela, even after he has retired from public life is considered as the force behind the nation and is almost worshipped. He is the Father of the S.Africa as Gandhiji is the Father of the Indian nation.He gave the nation its dignity and a position among the world nations.
“You can have all the wealth, all the riches in the world, but it would not mean anything without dignity, which is the most important thing in the world. Apartheid robbed our people of dignity and our biggest achievement is that, after 300 years of suppression, we have won dignity for the people.” so said Ahmad Kathrada, leader of SAC and co-prisoner of Nelson Mandela in Robben Island. And Nelson Mandela lead that struggle, which gave dignity and self respect to S.African people and the toiling masses all over the world.
Nelson Mandela was a legend while living and will continue as a legend after death also. My respectful homage and Red Salute to the Great Nelson Mandela!