The most beloved child of Mother Earth has called it a day. Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela, belovedly known by his clan name 'Madiba' or 'Tata'(Father) has left the battleground called 'Life'. Without a doubt, Nelson Mandela was one of the most famous and prominent personalities of the world, yet, a lot of his work and his ideologies have gone unnoticed . His complete life was a struggle and his achievements outstanding even though he had spent more than a quarter of his life in prison.

'Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole;
I thank whatever Gods maybe,
For my unconquerable soul. '

Who was Nelson Mandela and why should I, an Indian, mourn his death, people may ask. We Indians are proud of our freedom fighters for it is their struggle that today we have taken almost everything, including our freedom, for granted. Most of us haven't seen them, but have heard their stories which have inspired us. Mandela was that inspiration in the human form whom we have seen, even if from a distance. We had Veer Savarkar, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and Mahatma Gandhi, all working towards the same goal but with different strategies. South Africa had all of these blended together in one : their own Madiba. A trained guerilla warrior, he was in the terrorist's list and his organization ANC (African National Congress) was listed as a terrorist organization in his own country along with US (his name was erased in 2008),Britain and many others. The very same countries later awarded him with honorary citizenships and highest humanitarian awards. He once was a supporter of armed revolution like Bhagat Singh. He was the master of disguise and went out of the country under an alias in order to gain support, just like Bose. He then served a gruesome 27 years in prison where he fought against harassment and for the betterment of prison conditions, like Savarkar and throughout his life was an anti-apartheid revolutionary like Mahatma Gandhi. The son of the Thembu Royal Family of Xhosa had seen it all.

' In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud;
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.'

He spent 18 years in Robben Island Prison where he was kept in a damp concrete cell measuring 8 feet by 7 feet (just enough to stand and just enough to sleep). A straw mat and a bucket for sanitation was all he had. Verbally and physically harassed by white wardens, he used to break stones into gravel and was later reassigned to work in the lime quarry. He was initially forbidden to wear sunglasses and the glare from the lime permanently damaged his eyesight. Newspapers were forbidden and he spent many nights in solitary confinement for possessing news clippings. Classified as lowest grade of prisoner, Grade D, he was allowed only one visitor and one letter every six months. He went on work and hunger strikes, asking other prisoners to do the same in order to improve the prison conditions. As a result he was not allowed to attend the funeral of his own mother and his eldest son, who died in an accident. It was only in 1975, when he was made class A prisoner that he was allowed to write letters on a regular basis. What he did all this time? For one, he never lost hope and used to keep in touch with other revolutionaries. He completed his LLB in 1980 and also wrote his autobiography, which even though smuggled to London, remained unpublished for next 4 years. The apartheid government offered to release him on six occasions, but he refused every time.

' Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the Shade;
And yet the menace of the years finds,
and shall find me unafraid. '

The UN has declared his birthday, July 18 as the Nelson Mandela International Day. This was the first time a particular day was dedicated to a person. His honors and awards have no limits. He has won more than 695 awards and honorary degrees, including Nobel Peace Prize , US Congressional Medal and Bharat Ratna. He has been awarded honorary citizenship of many countries like Canada, Rome, Greece, Italy etc. Many roads, parks and universities have been named after him across the globe and has also been awarded honorary doctorates in Law and Politics from at least 40 different universities. He also has a nuclear particle (the 'Mandela particle'), a prehistoric woodpecker (Austrelopicus nelsonmandelai) and an orchid (Paravanda Nelson Mandela) named after him. He was the first African to be elected a President in a fully representative democratic polls. He is truly the 'Father of the Nation' of South Africa.

' It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul. '
Respect for his work, his ethics and his struggle. Whenever will rise the typhoons of domination, anywhere in the world, Madiba will serve as the sail of inspiration !!!

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