Column

Twenty seven years in Lockdown

Gerry Moran gives his insight on a man who spent 27 years in Lockdown, and then made history!

Brian Keyes

Reporter:

Brian Keyes

Gerry Moran

Gerry Moran

Three men who will definitely escape the Coronavirus are Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
Those three astronauts left planet Earth recently for the International Space Station and will remain in lockdown there until October by which time Covid-19 will have passed over. We hope!
The three astronauts were in lockdown for a month prior to launch to ensure that they didn’t carry the Covid-19 into space; bad enough that the virus is global without it becoming intergalactic!
Being locked up, or locked down, whichever, might not be the worst thing that could happen to anyone. One man who was locked up for 27 years came out stronger, wiser and more determined than ever.
And his name? Nelson Mandela. Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 (as it happens we share the same birthday, but there’ll be no wild party for me this year - not that there ever was!) Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahia Mandela (Nelson was given to him by a teacher when he was seven) Rolihlahia means ‘to pull a branch off a tree’ and ‘troublemaker’. And for sure Mandela caused trouble for the South African authorities and their policy of apartheid. As this year, 2020, marks the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison; here are some facts about the man.
As a youngster, he attended boarding school
His father passed away when Nelson was 12 years old. Afterwards, wealthy relatives had custody of him
He attended Fort Hare Missionary College; however, he was expelled for organising a strike against the white rule of the college
He studied law at the University of Witwatersrand
In 1942, he joined the African National Congress (the ANC) and subsequently became its President
He was a lawyer in addition to an activist and politician
He was sentenced to life in prison, avoiding the death sentence, and was imprisoned on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison
In 1968, both his mother and son died. However, he was not permitted to attend their funerals
He had three wives, fathered six children, 17 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren
Released from prison in 1990 by President Frederick Willem de Klerk, they worked together to end apartheid and the pair won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993
In 1994 Mandela was elected President of South Africa – the first black head of state and it was the first election he ever voted in! He was 76 years old. In the same year he published his autobiography the ‘Long Walk to Freedom’
He enjoyed boxing as a hobby and loved sports. He believed that sport “has the power to change the world… has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
He had honorary degrees from more than 50 universities worldwide
After he stepped down from the presidency in 1999 he became a great advocate of HIV/AIDS as one of his sons died from an Aids-related illness
Nelson Mandela died on December 5, 2013, aged 95.
The following is an interesting anecdote about the late, great Nelson Mandela. When he was studying law at university, a white professor called Peters disliked him intensely. One day Professor Peters was having lunch in the dining room when Mandela came along and sat next to him.
“Don’t you know, Mr Mandela,” said the professor, “that a pig and a bird cannot sit together.”
“In that case,” replied Mandela, “I’ll fly away” and he went and sat at another table. The professor, still seething from Mandela’s quick riposte confronted him in class the following day.
“Answer me this, Mr Mandela, you are walking along the road and you come upon two bags, a bag of wisdom and a bag of money. You can only take one - which would you take?”
Mandela thought about it for a moment and replied “The bag of money”.
“That’s the difference between you and I, Mr Mandela, I would have chosen the bag of wisdom,” said the professor. Mandela quickly replied: “Professor, we all take what we haven’t got.”
As a last attempt at revenge the professor, when handing back exam papers, wrote IDIOT on Mandela’s paper. Mandela stared at it for some time then approached Mr Peters.
“Professor,” he said. “You signed my paper but you forgot to give me a grade.”