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Nelson Mandela as role model

Feb 12, 2010, 2:30 PM

Yesterday February 11th marked 20 years since the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, a step that led to the end of decades of apartheid regime in South Africa.

In Cape Town, prominent figures took part in a commemorative walk at the prison where he spent the final months of his 27-year imprisonment.

Mr. Mandela, now age 91, was expected to make a rare public appearance on Thursday evening.

He became the country's first black President in 1994.

Mr. Mandela spent most of his sentence in Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, and later in Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland.

Before his release, he lived in a cottage in the grounds of Victor Verster prison in a rural area some 50km (31 miles) from Cape Town, with his own cook.

Thursday's re-enactment walk went through the gates of Victor Verster prison, now known as Drakenstein Prison, where a statue of Mr. Mandela stands with its hand upraised.

As Africans it's important that we emulate the likes of Nelson Mandela who sacrificed to die for his countrymen.

We salute Mr. Mandela for the selfless sacrifice he made for South Africa.

Several people in South Africa have been praising him, and celebrated his legacy.

He stood for his country and struggled to the best interest of South Africa.

Mr. Mandela did not join the walk, but he is expected to attend a state of the nation address by South African President, Jacob Zuma later.

"We are trying to ensure that he gets a lot of rest during the day so he could be fresh and energetic in the evening to attend parliament," said his grandson, Mandla Mandela.

Mr. Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for plotting to overthrow the government by violence.

During his years in prison he became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid.

In 1990, the South African government responded to internal and international outcries and freed him, at the same time lifting the ban against the anti-apartheid African National Congress (ANC).

Christo Brand, the former prison warden assigned to guard Mr. Mandela, said of events 20 years ago: "I hoped there would be no bloodshed. There was no bloodshed. Everything worked out perfectly

"And I know the way Mandela does negotiations, he was really thinking of the other side, too.

"He not only thinks of the black people of the country, but thinking also of the whites and studying and feeling the fears of the whites in this country.

"And I think through that fear, he came up and thought of a good solution for South Africa."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, another key player in the fight against apartheid, said the day of Mr. Mandela's release was "a day that promised the beginning of the end of indignity."

To us, this says a lot about the man himself Mr. Mandela.

In 1991, Mr. Mandela became the ANC's leader. He was President of South Africa from 1994 until 1999, when he stood down, as one of a few African leaders at the time to voluntarily give up power.

All these speak volume of his character as a great leader and role model for all those who want to break record in life.

It's a reminder to all that going through difficult times doesn't necessarily mean that you won't make it in life.

Meanwhile, we pray for Mr. Mandela to live longer with good health.