Mandela fought for South Africa's unity, prosperity

2013-12-06 05:38:50 GMT2013-12-06 13:38:50(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela passed away Thursday after his long battle against lung infection, arousing mourning across the world.

Mandela, 95, has dedicated all his life to a peaceful termination of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He was elected in 1994 the first black president of South Africa in a multiracial democratic vote.

Unlike many other African leaders in the anti-colonialism and liberation struggle, Mandela fought to advocate love, unity and prosperity.

Rather than resorting to revenge after his election, Mandela tried to reduce hatred and violence, said Given Mogweemang, a researcher with South African Institute of Race Relations.

South Africa has maintained peace and stability after the end of apartheid in 1994, due to the non-violent means adopted by Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC) party.

He never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning, and is globally known as a master of unity and reconciliation.

"Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all," Mandela said, a quote which has been an inspiration to all young South Africans and African politicians.

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities," Mandela said in his famous "Speech from the Dock" on April 20, 1964.

His 27-year jail time at the Robben Island Prison off Cape Town saw Mandela's reputation grow as the country's most important leader and a potent symbol of the anti-apartheid movement.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his endeavors for the peaceful end of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundation for a new democratic South Africa.

The legacy behind Mandela is huge, said Piet Marais, a local media correspondent, adding that a lot remained to be discovered from him.

Mandela was the second man after India's Gandhi to successfully push forward non-violence means, which highlighted the fact that reconciliation and forgiveness are the best way to deal with hatred, and avengement can only result in enmity and violence, Marais said.

Born in Mvezo in Eastern Cape Province on July 18, 1918, Mandela was inspired from childhood to take a leading role in the struggle for the freedom of his people.

The man, affectionately known as Madiba, said his fight would be for all in South Africa, on the African continent and on this planet.

Keeping his promise, Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as South Africa's president.

Away from the political arena, he continued with his philanthropic work focusing on the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world," South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.

South Africa would reaffirm Mandela's vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another and would strive together to "build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa," said Zuma.

It is unlikely that the South African government will change its policy after the death of Mandela, said Scott Firsing, director of Pretoria-based North American International School.

The South African government has been implementing the policy set up by Mandela after his step-down from presidency in 1999, and accumulated rich experience in administration, Firsing said.

The democratic system has been established in South Africa, which plays an efficient role in balancing and checking the powers of the ruling party and prevents any irrational policies adopted by any parties, he stressed.

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