His life has been a remarkable journey along a road that has taken him from prisoner to president to global icon. Nelson Mandela is celebrating his 93rd birthday today and New7Wonders joins people all over the world wishing him health and happiness for the coming year.
One of South Africa’s most famous landmarks, Table Mountain, is among the 28 Finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature, and it served as an inspiration for Nelson Mandela during his 27 years of imprisonment. “During the many years of incarceration on Robben Island, we often looked across Table Mountain at its magnificent silhouette,” Mandela said. “To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.”
The ideal of political freedom for the majority of South Africans is at the heart of the Mandela story. The anti-apartheid strategy that was conceived behind the prison bars on Robben Island led to talks with the white minority government and, eventually, the release of all political prisoners. On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of custody and into freedom. South Africa’s first multi-racial elections were held in April 1994 and Mandela was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as the country’s first black President.
On a continent where political leadership has often turned into tyranny, Nelson Mandela set a new standard of integrity by honouring his pledge to retire after serving a single, five-year term. “Success in politics demands that you must take your people into confidence about your views and state them very clearly, very politely, very calmly, but nevertheless state them openly,” he said, explaining his philosophy.