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The Universal Magazine

Nelson Mandela: A Decade Without the Absolute Icon of Peace

One of the greatest men of peace in the world, a symbol of resilience, pacifism, and anti-racism

Nelson Mandela, the man who dedicated his life to the fight for a free and democratic society in South Africa, passed away ten years ago, on December 5, 2013. His relentless fight against the racist apartheid regime led to a life sentence in prison in 1964. Yet, far from becoming bitter, Mandela remained a symbol of reconciliation and peace, earning global admiration.

Former South African President Frederik De Klerk, who contributed to Mandela’s release, describes him as an exceptional man, devoid of bitterness despite his 27 years of imprisonment. Mandela focused on the need for reconciliation and forgiveness, a spirit that guided South Africa’s peaceful transition to democracy. De Klerk and Mandela were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for ending apartheid.

Born in 1918, Mandela was from the Xhosa people. For years, under the apartheid regime, the dissemination of his image was prohibited. His release, on February 11, 1990, was a landmark event, signaling the beginning of the end of apartheid. The images of his release, where he appears arm in arm with his wife Winnie, fist raised, remain etched in memory.

The song Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg, which became a political anthem in 1988, embodied the spirit of resistance at the time, when South Africa was isolated due to international sanctions. Mandela, upon his release, was 72 years old. He continued his fight, modestly stating: "Late in my life, I bloom like a flower".

Today, a decade after his passing, Mandela’s legacy continues to inspire entire generations, making him a true treasure of humanity and an unforgettable man of peace.