Nelson Mandela spent the later part of the 20th century as a beacon of light in a nation known for their tumultuous race relations. Mandela’s election as South Africa’s president in 1994 snowballed a unifying effort to end segregation nationally. Imprisoned in 1962 by the reigning regime, Mandela’s life stands as an example for a nation that freedom is worth the fight. Forty years later, upon accepting his nation’s presidency, Mandela has these words to say, “”In a way I had never quite comprehended before, I realized the role I could play in court and the possibilities before me as a defendant. I was the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness and democracy in a society that dishonoured those virtues. I realized then and there that I could carry on the fight even in the fortress of the enemy.”
Mandela is regarded by the world as a humanitarian, leader and diplomat. This week marks Mandela’s 95th birthday. His home country of South Africa honored him with 67 minutes of servitude to others in celebration of his 67 years of public service. Mandela celebrated the day in a hospital battling critical illness, yet “steadily improving.”
His birthday marks his 40th day of bedrest. He was greeted by the African National Congress with a birthday cake, poster and flowers, along with piles of gifts from citizens paying homage to the nation’s former president.
From outside the hospital freedom songs illuminated the sky sparking memories of the past freedom fight Mandela led to free a country from the bondage of racism and oppression. The songs pay accolade to a man whose life is permeated with struggle, repression and imprisonment, yet rose as an emblem of hope for a nation.