Nelson Mandela: A brief profile of the ailing Anti-Apartheid African


Anti Apartheid leader and Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was born on 18th July 1918 in a small village of Mvezo which was then a part of South Africa’s Cape Town province. He was given the forename Rolihlahla which basically means ‘troublemaker’. Mandela’s name was going to have a huge effect on him in the future as he would go onto create enormous trouble for the ruling racist regime in South Africa.

No one in Nelson Mandela’s family had ever attended school. He was the first one to avail of this luxury as he was sent to a Methodist school to study when he was seven. At that point in time, there was a custom among Africans that they would generally be given English names while attending school. On the first day of his school, Mandela was given the name Nelson by his teacher Miss Mdingane.

At a tender age of nine, Nelson Mandela lost his father to an undiagnosed ailment. Mandela inherited several aspects of his father’s personality. In his own words, he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness”.

Coming of age:

At the age of 16, Mandela underwent the ritual of circumcision which basically marked ones evolution from being a boy to a man. After observance of the said ritual, Mandela was given the name “Dalibunga”.

During his initial days, Mandela avoided any revolutionary activity. Instead he was supportive of Great Britain during the days of the Second World War. This was principally because he saw European colonialists of the time as benefactors and not oppressors.

Politics & Personal Life:

In the year 1944, Mandela married his first wife Evelyn Mase who was a serving nurse. The couple gave birth to two kids one of whom died early due to a childhood ailment. In the same year he founded the African National Congress to stage protests against the racist regime.

Nelson Mandela’s political career went on the ascendance when he was elected National President of the ANCYL in 1950. During these years Mandela was heavily influenced by Communist ideologues like Karl Marx. Alongside Indian and Communist groups, Mandela chalked out a non violent resistance to the apartheid regime.

Mandela was arrested in 1952 and booked under the Suppression of Communism Act. In 1953, at an ANC meeting, Mandela’s supporters read out his historic speech ‘No easy walk to freedom’ whose title was inspired by a famous quotation of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

After getting divorced from his first wife in 1957, Mandela got married for the second time to Winnie Madikizela in 1958. Their wedlock lasted for more than three decades until the couple finally separated ways in 1992 and filed for divorce in 1996.

Struggle and Imprisonment:

In 1962, after getting frustrated with the slow movement of his anti-apartheid campaign, Mandela left the country to receive military training in neighbouring countries like Morocco and Ethiopia. On his return to his native home, Mandela was nabbed by security forces and taken into custody. On June 12th, 1964 Mandela along with seven others was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

February 1990 saw a dramatic turn of events as South Africa’s last White President FW de Klerk lifted the ban on ANC and other revolutionary movements which had sprung up. On February 11th of the same year, the unthinkable happened as Mandela walked out of prison.

Nelson Mandela is going to go down in history as one of the most remarkable challengers to the repressive phenomena of colour-based racism. (AFP)

Nelson Mandela is going to go down in history as one of the most remarkable challengers to the repressive phenomena of colour-based racism. (AFP)

Nobel Prize, General Elections and Presidency:

In 1993, both Mandela and Klerk were awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts towards forging a country free from racial bias. South Africa held a historic general election in the year 1994 in which Nelson Mandela and the ANC took active part. Mandela spent bulk of his time campaigning and raising funds for the party. ANC grabbed over 60% of the national vote count and stormed to power.
Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s President in Pretoria on 10th May. He laid down excessive stress on national reconciliation and annihilating racism. He was also deeply concerned about the problems of hunger and poverty which were intrinsically associated with the African continent. In May 1996, a new Constitution of South Africa was formally agreed upon by the South African Parliament.

3rd Marriage and Retirement:

On his 80th birthday, in the beginning of the twilight years of his life, Nelson Mandela married Gracy Machel on the insistence of his colleague and fellow South African icon Desmond Tutu. The two have had a fairly successful relationship ever since their marriage fifteen years ago.

Mandela retired from active political life in 1999 but he carried on with his social activism. He held regular meetings with world leaders and was busy deliberating on how to combat diseases like HIVAIDS and propel rural development. In the former half of the first decade of the 21st century, Mandela vociferously criticized the Western powers for their military interventions.

In June 2004, Mandela announced that he was “retiring from retirement” and urged people not to call him but instead he would call them. From here onwards, Mandela made limited public appearances and was seen in public as an icon whose time had come to pass.

Deteriorating Health:

The second decade of the 21st century brought about serious health problems for Nelson Mandela as he was rushed to hospital multiple times because of various ailments. On 8th June 2013, his condition worsened and he was rushed to a hospital in Pretoria. Government officials and doctors have since described his condition as “critical but stable”.

Did you just call me a kafir?

In popular western media, bashful of Islam and the backwardness of Arabs in terms of universal human rights, which to a great extent stands justified, and even in the Muslim-sympathizing circles of the supposedly liberal media, the word ‘kafir’ has been wrongly translated as either an ‘infidel’ or a ‘sinner’. Islamophobes or Islamorealists as they call themselves, the two terms being diagonally opposed to one another, usually use the term ‘kafir’ to inform the Non Muslims about their lowly and outcaste-like status in the House of Islam. What is amusing is that the ignorant Muslims also use the term with the intention of slinging mud on the character and religious practises of their Non Muslim counterparts.

The important thing over here is to educate some Orientalists and Ulemas about the background, significance and evolution of the word ‘kafir’ by means of Islamic history and the Holy Quran. Prior to the advent of Islam in the Arab world, what Muslims today call the ‘Age of Ignorance’, the word ‘kafir’ was associated with the agricultural community of farmers. The word basically meant to hide or to conceal. Since farmers used to conceal or hide their seeds by means of mud while sowing them inside the ground, this word was considered most apt to define the job which they were doing. The authenticity of this theory can be found in the Quran itself as the holy book of some 1.6 billion Muslims does mention farmers and the ‘k’ word in the same breath.

The second meaning which came to be ascribed to this term was that of ‘rejecting or disbelieving’. When Prophet Muhammad and his followers were being persecuted by the Meccan tribes during the early days of Islam, Muhammad is reported to have received a revelation which eventually went on to become Surah Al Kafiron of the Quran. This could well have been the first time the word kafir was being used in connection with Non Muslims. The revealed verses urged those who disbelieved in and rejected the message of Muhammad to follow their own religion and allow Muslims to do the same. Sounds respectable, isn’t it? However, what went wrong as time elapsed is that wherever this term has been translated by scholars, they have either used the expression ‘rejecters of truth’ or ‘disbelievers of truth’ instead of something like ‘rejecters of Muhammad’s message’ or ‘disbelievers of Muhammad’s message’. This little error has cost the Muslim ummah dearly as Non Muslims have come to be seen as liars and not adherents of other faiths who are worthy of respect and toleration.

To set things right, people need to be exposed to more of Quranic trivia. Other terms associated with the term ‘kafir’ are that of ‘kufr’ and ‘kafiron’, all of them being a kind of derivates with the same meaning. The famous verse of the throne (2:255) which is most widely recited verse among the Muslims is followed by yet another iconic verse ie 2:256 which makes use of the expression ‘La ikraha fiddeen’ ie there is no compulsion in religion. The verse is quoted quite often these days during Islamic discourses and is used to showcase the message of religious freedom engraved in the Quran. Some critics argue that the verse stands abrogated by means of subsequent revelations received by Muhammad but nevertheless the point which I wish to make can be seen explicitly by means of this revelation. In this verse, the word ‘kufr’ has been used for the Muslims. It is said that the believers ie Muslims (as they are referred to in the Quran) ‘reject’ or ‘show kufr’ to Satan and instead follow God. The verse goes on to extol the believers for this commendable job and assures divine assistance and help for them. The fact that the term has been used not only in connection with Non Muslims but also Muslims in the Quran proves that the word ‘kafir’ is inherently not a racially abusive word. It’s high time that the ignorant Muslims rectify their usage of the term and give Non Muslims their due respect.

Hindu Right’s Hand in Glove with the English Electronic Media

A lot of people might be surprised to know that the principal sponsor of the two topmost prime-time shows on English television ie The Newshour hosted by Arnab Goswami on Times Now and India @ 9 hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN-IBN is one single entity ie Amity University. The interesting thing over here is that this is the same university which was founded by Mr Ashok Chauhan and he continues till date as the President of Amity Group of Institutions. Besides being a successful educationist, Mr Chauhan is also involved in Indian politics as he is the chairperson of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s European Central Committee. VHP is an orthodox religio-political organization which is a part of the Sangh Parivar and an ally of the BJP.  In the past, it led the highly divisive Ram Janmabhoomi Movement which brought about a significant change in the direction of Indian politics.

The fact that two leading shows capable of opinion-building are being sponsored by a university being controlled by a VHP man, speaks volumes of the nexus between the Hindu Right of India and the electronic English media industry. But still the Hindutva brigade would overlook this tie-up and accuse the English electronic media of being a stooge of the ‘Khan-gress’ ie Congress, the former title being a mockery of Congress’s supposed Muslim appeasement policies which keep angering the Sangh Parivar and which has forced them to take up the job of saving ‘Bharat’.

We are all aware of how monumental an influence sponsors have on editorial policy and content. Very often they call the shots and gag or censor what ought to be gagged or censored because of the kind of inconvenience associated with it. However, the Hindutva brigade would conveniently overlook all these inconvenient truths and paint all channels, specifically English channels, with the same brush of being either ‘pseudo-secular’ or ‘sickular’.

The internet and the social media is flooded with volatile, abusive and hateful comments of the Internet Hindus, for those who consider this statement to be blasphemous, please realize that an internet Hindu is quite different from a Hindu or a pious Hindu in the classical sense of the term. The pervert brazenness of the internet Hindu is something which I’ve not only been personally subjected to on various blogs and comments of mine on the internet but have also witnessed it professionally during my month-long internship with the online division of the Indian Express. During this month-long affair, I worked upon several stories (running into hundreds) but the most successful story which I worked upon was the one relating to the introduction of two child policy for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.  (

The kind of ecstasy which these internet Hindus showed towards this highly racist story (evident from 1.5k likes which it garnered, which by the way no story of mine ever came close to) just shows how deeply these people hate Muslims and approve of the idea of their state-sponsored subjugation. In one of his articles titled ‘Who’s the real Hindu?’ ( published as a part of his widely read column, ‘The Sunday Sentiments’, Karan Thapar wrote about the need for Hindus to challenge the kind of fanaticism which was being propagated by organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Just like the Muslim community world over is under pressure to condemn each and every act of shameless Islamist terror, the most recent being the gruesome murder of a British soldier on the streets of London, it is high time that liberal Hindus on the social media reject the kind of mad frenzy which is being pushed forth by Internet Hindus through their ideology of Hindutva extremism.

In my personal opinion, the Hindu intellectuals have been far more vocal of their condemnation of Hindutva extremism than Muslim intellectuals are of Islamist extremism but I am waiting to see the same kind of wisdom dawn upon the laymen of these religious communities who as of now are being supportive of vicious political campaigns and puritanical forms of faith, the latter employing more specifically to young Muslims.