|Nelson Mandela "Amadelakufa!" (Death Defiance!)|
Presidency to Present
Nelson Mandela was elected On May 10, 1994 as the first black president of South Africa in the country's first democratic multiracial elections. (See his inaugural speech) Amazingly, only four years before, Mandela had been prisoner at Robben Island. However, the new president took little time to adjust to his bright new life. His longtime friend Ahmed Kathrada once said, "He settles in as if he is trained for everything." In some cases, Mandela just changed the way things were done instead of adjusting. For example the staff in Pretoria, most of them, especially the blacks, but many of the whites, too, had never shaken a hand or spoken with a minister, a prime minister or a president. Only the highest white servers were allowed in the official residence. Nelson Mandela started out his term by shaking hands with everyone and inquiring on their family matters. Then soon inviting those people home for meals.
Mandela was president for five years, and in that time he charmed the world with what is called "Mabida Magic." ("Mabida" is Mandela's tribal nickname) He worked to destroy racial barriers between the many peoples of South Africa. But not only are his great political actions worthy. In 1998 a white farmer shot and killed a black child who was crossing his property. The farmer said it was an accident, yet the incident greatly heightened racial tensions in the area. President Mandela made a personal visit to the family of the dead child to offer them comfort and support.
After his term ended, Mandela didn't even think of running for a second time. As Ahmed Kathrada said, "He wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. He has been saying he wants to write. He wants to write about the presidential yearsŠ" It's ggreat to find a politician who's more concerned with the simple things in life. But although Mandela left office, he definitely didn't drop his hands‹he is still active helping humanity.
Mandela spoke out when a policy was passed that denied most pregnant women access to the drug nevirapine, which is a drug that is used to block transmission of the AIDS virus during childbirth. Mandela said that patients should be allowed to chose whether to use anti-retroviral drugs or not. "When people are dying‹babies, young people‹I can never be quiet," said Nelson Mandela in an interview.
Nelson Mandela is also actively involved in the battle against AIDS. South Africa had the largest HIV/AIDS infected population in the world‹4.7 million people or one in nine of the population. Mandela asked the G-8 countries for help fighting the AIDS epidemic that was sweeping the nation. "Give us the resources necessary to attack this problem," Mandela said to the prime minister of Canada, Chretien, who was on a tour of Africa. Already a plan is being drawn out to fight the problem. It will be called the New Partnership For Africa's Development.
And, as always, Nelson Mandela is looking out for the children which he so loves. He started a Nelson Mandela Children's Fund that helps out kids. Their mission statement reads, "The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund will nurture, motivate and care for the future of children and youth. To support organizations implementing programs and projects that empower children and youth from impoverished backgrounds to improve the quality of their lives. The NMCF places emphasis on creative, innovative, and participatory initiatives that have the potential to change the ways in which society responds to children and youth."