19 July 2013

Happy Birthday, Madiba! South Africa Honors 95-Year-Old Nelson Mandela & How Nelson Mandela Survived His Years in Isolated South African Jail 18JUL13

NELSON MANDELA, MADIBA, celebrated his 95th birthday on 18JUL13. He is still in a hospital fighting a persistent lung infection as a result of contracting tuberculosis while in prison in (formerly) apartheid ruled South Africa. God Bless you Madiba, thank you for all you have done for us, the lessons you have taught us. From the PBS NewsHour....
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: a milestone in the life of former South African leader Nelson Mandela. He turned 95 today.
We go again to Kwame for the story.

Hip, hip!(SINGING)
KWAME HOLMAN: Schoolchildren joined the chorus of South Africans in celebrations of Mandela's long life.
Reflecting on Change in South Africa and Icon Mandela
IVIWE MVITSHANE, student: Happy birthday, Tata Nelson Mandela. We are all praying for you to get better soon.
KWAME HOLMAN: Across the country, people marked the occasion by volunteering 67 minutes to charitable work. That's one minute for each of the years Mandela spent fighting apartheid, and then serving as the nation's first black president.
The current president, Jacob Zuma, welcomed families into newly-built, low-income housing outside Pretoria. And he spoke of the man known to all by his tribal name.
PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, South Africa: What is being done by everybody today, to take some time and do something for people in honor of Madiba. That's why we came today, to do our own here.
KWAME HOLMAN: Elsewhere, hundreds flooded into a Johannesburg convention center to pack meals for the poor.
WOMAN: It's important for me, because it's like I am doing something. Like, for example, I sleep every day with a meal. And there are people out there who don't have anything meal to eat. So, for me, it's like, wow, it's something that I do for someone who doesn't have anything.  
KWAME HOLMAN: And in Capetown, Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped paint walls in a local orphanage.
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: And, today, people are thinking about Madiba because it is international Madiba day. And he makes us walk tall as South Africans and reminds us that we have the capacity to be this fantastic nation.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tributes also poured in from around the globe.
DALAI LAMA, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader: I would like to express my -- firstly, my admiration about the great man Nelson Mandela.
KWAME HOLMAN: Leading figures, including the Dalai Lama and former President Bill Clinton, spoke in a Nelson Mandela Center of Memory video.
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We have all equally been awed by his dedication to others and by his inspiration to serve as he did, working to build a more just and peaceful world.
KWAME HOLMAN: Leaders of the U.S. House also weighed in, praising the legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Scarcely, a week or day goes by without us pointing to Mandela as an example, an example of standing on principle, of loving your neighbor, and of extending the reach of freedom.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.: He had the courage to turn, not to hatred, but to love, not to vengeance, but to compassion, not to resentment, but to reconciliation.
KWAME HOLMAN: The patriarch himself remained in a Pretoria heart clinic, where he was admitted June 8 with a recurring lung infection. There've been conflicting reports about his condition, but, today, hospital visitors generally gave upbeat reports. Mandela's daughter said he's making remarkable progress.
ZINDZI MANDELA, daughter of Nelson Mandela: Over the past three weeks or so, I have just seen a huge turnaround. Of course, I am not a medical doctor. They are the ones who will decide or determine when he goes back home, but I am confident it will be some time soon.
KWAME HOLMAN: One grandson was more cautious, saying Mandela is still critical, but a lot more alert. 
WORLD -- JULY 18, 2013 AT 9:00 AM EDT

How Nelson Mandela Survived His Years in Isolated South African Jail

View photos of Nelson Mandela's prison years and release.
Former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela turns 95 on Thursday. He spent many of his years in jail while still fighting for a democratic and free society.
In all, Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of those on Robben Island, a rock quarry off the coast of Cape Town. He and eight other African National Congress leaders were convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and were sentenced to life in jail in 1964.
Mandela and the other prisoners were completely isolated, got little to eat and had to undertake the grueling work of pounding rocks into gravel.
What kept him and the others sane was the community they formed for themselves, according to Gay McDougall. During apartheid, McDougall was director of the Southern African Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, assisting in the defense of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa.
"One of the things that was extraordinary about [Mandela] is his sense that being in a group -- a collective -- of people committed to the same principles, along with making collective decisions about the way forward, is an essential element in movement-building and survival in circumstances that are harsh and oppressive," she said.
Mandela's cell on Robben Island. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images.
"People refer to 'Robben Island University' because they began to study" everything from politics to their individual areas of expertise, said McDougall.
Mandela also knew he was serving a larger purpose in jail and didn't hold it against the guards, she said. "That lack of personal animosity toward those in charge of his confinement was important to his survival."
Times were tough, though. It was in prison that he learned about the death of one of his children from his first wife Evelyn Mase.
His health also took a toll. In 1982, he was moved to the maximum security Pollsmoor Prison on the main land, where he was believed to have contracted tuberculosis. He has fought respiratory ailments ever since.
An international movement helped secure Mandela's release in 1990 at age 71. When he emerged from jail, no one knew what he would look like -- that's how closely the apartheid government had shielded him from the world, said McDougall.
"I thought he looked remarkably fit and handsome, upright and dignified," she said. And the speech he gave in Cape Town upon his release was remarkable in that he "didn't give an inch" from his original demands going into jail, she added.
"The need to unite the people of our country is as important a task now as it always has been. No individual leader is able to take on this enormous task on his own. It is our task as leaders to place our views before our organization and to allow the democratic structures to decide," Mandela said on Feb. 11, 1990.
Mandela helped negotiate the end of apartheid under then-President F.W. de Klerk. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and his ANC party won multi-racial democratic elections a year later. Mandela became president of South Africa, serving one term.
On the June 28 PBS NewsHour, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, special correspondent for NBC News, discussed Mandela's legacy and how democracy helped shape South Africa:

Slideshow assembled by Colleen Shalby