Mandela and Human Rights

Nelson Mandela, 2008 (Picture: South Africa The Good News)

Nelson Mandela, 2008 (Picture: South Africa The Good News)

Today is International Human Rights Day and the world gathered in Johannesburg to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest Human Rights defenders of our times.

During 42 years South Africa was segregated. The ruling minority classified the country into four racial groups and segregated education, medical care, other public services, beaches and even park benches. The Afrikaner-dominated National Party ultimately deprived black people of their citizenship and non-white political representation was abolished. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison due to his actions against the Apartheid Regime.

Bench reserved for “non-whites only” outside a public building in Cape Town (Picture: KNewman Wiki Commons)

Bench reserved for “non-whites only” outside a public building in Cape Town (Picture: KNewman Wiki Commons)

After all this pain caused to black people and after having spent 27 years in prison, Mandela chose reconciliation over vengeance. His ability to forgive is his greatest lesson for humanity.

He understood and truly lived Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remembered today: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Frederik de Klerk with Nelson Mandela in 1992 at the World Economic Forum (Picture: World Economic Forum, WikiCommons)

Frederik de Klerk with Nelson Mandela in 1992 at the World Economic Forum (Picture: World Economic Forum, WikiCommons)

 

Let Mandela’s choices, his dignity and his strong belief in human rights always be a guiding light.

Text: Josephine Landertinger Forero

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