Today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. The South African icon is 93 years old today, and since 2009 his birthday’s also been "Nelson Mandela Day" for South Africa.
Mandela, who was punished with a life sentence in prison after he was convicted in 1962 of attempting to overthrow the country with his work with the African National Congress, became an icon of nonviolent protest against the country’s regime of racial segregation and apartheid. Mandela Day recognizes the country’s national hero, a man who spent 27 years in prison fighting against the country’s system of apartheid. He consistently refused to compromise his political views in order to gain his release from prison but in 1990 was released from prison, and returned to his leadership of the ANC.
In 1994, South Africa’s system of legalized racial segregation was officially ended, and Mandela became the first president to be elected in the country’s fully democratic election. The year prior, in 1993, Mandela had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
"I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people," Mandela wrote in his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom. "There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise."
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