It's rare that one gets so influenced by the thoughts and politics of an individual that he practices the same to bring about a revolution in his country. Well this has been the case with Late South African President Nelson Mandela, who adopted the philosophy of his 'political guru' Mahatma Gandhi, and led a strong movement to abolish apartheid.
'Both Gandhi and I suffered colonial oppression, and both of us mobilized our respective peoples against governments that violated our freedoms,' wrote Mandela, while calling Gandhi as the 'Sacred Mandela describes Gandhi as the anti-colonial revolutionary whose nonviolent resistance inspired anti-colonial and anti-racist movements internationally in our century. "Gandhi is most revered for his commitment to non-violence and the Congress Movement was strongly influenced by this Gandhian philosophy, it was a philosophy that achieved the mobilisation of millions of South Africans during the 1952 defiance campaign, which established the Africa National Congress (ANC) as a mass-based organisation," said Mandela at an unveiling of Gandhi Memorial in South Africa in 1993.
Gandhi spent 21 years of his life in South Africa and it is here where Gandhi's first protested against the discriminatory policies of British government. Gandhi organised the Indian merchants into a political force and led over 2,000 striking Indians to protest against punitive tax.
It's not only Mandela who was impressed by the politics of Gandhi,the late South African President was beloved figure in India. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, India conferred him with the Bharat Ratna while he got the Nobel Prize in 1993.
'We felt deeply honoured that after his release from prison, India was one of the first countries he visited, in 1990. We awarded him the Bharat Ratna, the highest honour that India can bestow, because we loved and revered him, because he was a leader who belonged to all humanity, a towering beacon for all who cherish freedom, democracy and social justice. We will be forever grateful that such a one as he walked this earth of ours,' said Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Mandela who was the first black president of South Africa not only ended the apartheid, but being impressed by the Gandhi, he worked towards building an inclusive society. Both Gandhi and Mandela argued that the strength of India and South Africa was against backwardness and exploitation of the people. This idea has now found its bearing in both the countries where a just society has been built which embraces people of all class, colour and religion.
Mandela's courage and his politics of taking every one along have been commended by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. 'Over the 10,000 days he spent in a brutal prison, sacrificing 27 years of his life for the freedom of his people, his courage never wavered, nor did his conviction that his cause was just and true. He emerged from his long incarceration with not a trace of bitterness or vengeance in his heart, only a renewed determination to erase the lethal legacy of apartheid, break down the barriers of hatred and distrust between whites and blacks, and unite South Africa's people,' said the Congress President.
At his trial, Nelson Mandela, who had spent two decades in the harsh conditions of Robben Island, spoke of a 'democratic and free society in which all persons live in harmony and with equal opportunities'¦ It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve, but if need be, an ideal for which I am prepared to die.'
Though Mandela followed the teachings of Gandhi in principle there was however, difference between the two leaders on the manner of protest."Gandhi remained committed to nonviolence; I followed the Gandhian strategy for as long as I could, but then there came a point in our struggle when the brute force of the oppressor could no longer be countered through passive resistance alone," said Mandela.
The late South African President is a true leader who will keep inspiring the generations to come. Mandela with his long years of his struggle for South Africa's freedom redefined the meaning of courage, sacrifice, and forgiveness.