Legendary Civil Rights Icon Nelson Mandela Dies

December 5, 2013

Legendary civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, who endured 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, died today. He was 95 year old.

Considered the founding father of South Africa’s multiracial democracy, Mr Mandela was hospitalised on June 8 for a recurring lung infection, and was released recently.

The former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner is believed to have suffered damage to his lungs while working in a prison quarry. He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the windswept Robben Island.


Revered around the world for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa, Mr. Mandela suffered through 27 years of imprisonment at the hands of the apartheid government.

In 1963 Mr. Mandela joined nine others on trial for in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. Facing the death penalty, he told the Court: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

In June 1964, Mr. Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent the first 18 of his 27 years in jail at the brutal Robben Island Prison. Confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing, he was forced to do hard labour in a quarry, and could only receive a letter once every six months.

On 11 February, 1990, Mr. Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years. Hundreds of thousands of supporters lined the streets to celebrate his release, and his release was broadcast around the world.


In a speech frequently drowned out by roars from the crowd, Mr. Mandela said: “Today, the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action. We have waited too long for our freedom.”

In 1994, Mr Mandela was sworn in as the country’s president after over three centuries of white minority rule, becoming the first black president of South Africa. He served one term, and after leaving office continued to be a voice on the world stage for developing nations, human rights and the fight against AIDS.

Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and was rarely been seen at official events since. He last appeared in public during the World Cup in 2010, and despite being out of the public eye, he remained a pivotal figure, with his name intricately linked to South Africa’s fight for freedom.

In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mr Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Widely regarded as hero around the world, there is no doubt Bermudians will be joining with those in South Africa and around the globe, as the world mourns the loss of an iconic human rights figure.

In a 1994 interview for a documentary, Mr Mandela said, “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.”

Update 10.55pm: Tributes to Mr Mandela from Premier Craig Cannonier, Opposition Leader Marc Bean, the Bishop of Bermuda Rt Revd Nicholas Dill and more can be found here.

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Comments (61)

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  1. Ringmaster says:

    What an inspiration to the World. RIP.

  2. Larry Burchall says:

    A great man gone. But what an example. I’ve been to Robben Island and seen some of what he had to fight against. To come out of all that and lead the way that he led is the mark of a strong true man. A true leader.

    Larry Burchall

  3. oh no. says:

    dam nelson. you will be a miss rest easy .. #iconic #black #freedom #spose

  4. Mazumbo says:

    The struggle continues! Be watchful always!!!
    From prisoner to President.

  5. N/A says:

    A true son of Africa, may he rest in peace. Hopefully Julias Malema and the EFF party can gain power and continue to fight for the people of South Africa.

    • Come on says:

      Do you think that Nelson Mandela would approve of Julius Malema and his party?

  6. Gabbs says:

    Very Sad Day:(

  7. terry says:

    He was old.
    But never loose sight of what and why our words are now.
    Thank you Nelson.

  8. Context says:

    Mandela was a great man, however South Africa still struggles with its social policies and has accelerated their legal Government-led discrimination against white South Africans. Google Search: Black Economic Empowerment Act.

    Mandela fought for racial equality, not racial favoritism. Once the current future South African leaders realize this, the country can continue its rehabilitation.

    - A South African in Bermuda

    • LR says:

      Not the place or time for your political propaganda. Just say RIP and move on FFS!

      • Mazumbo says:

        @Context you have every right to state your comment, which is nothing short of the truth, and that’s what he fought for, Democracy and there’s no time like the present to proclaim the truth.
        It’s mindsets like LR that gave him 27 years of his life in prison!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Mazumbo says:

          My bad LR I read that s–t wrong!!!!!!!!!!
          Context sounds like there’s some biased activity going on well how do you think black South Africans have been going through, it’s mindsets like Context that gave him 27 years of his life in prison!!
          Sorry LR.

      • Big Whoop says:

        There’s nothing wrong with what Context said…there is still much work to be done in South Africa and even Mr. Mandela would have known that. As he passes, now is a perfect time to mention that in his honour South Africa and the world should do the right thing for ALL peoples, and carry on his legacy.

        With that said, what a great man. The Lord blessed him with a long life because he deserved it. I wish I could have met him but I will never forget him.

        • Mazumbo says:

          I agree there is a lot of work to be done but what we are forgetting is that someone is complaining about racial favoritism and disregarding the fact that a whole nation had been plundered with murder , injustice, poverty and genocide for decades in a land that was invaded and raped of its riches that didn’t benefit the Africans and then have a trumped up exercise called The Truth and Reconciliation Commision where murderers where pardoned and the people have to accept it. Yes there is a lot of wok to be done.
          The victim forgives but the perpetrator rarely repents.

          • Suzie Quattro says:

            The Truth and reconciliation Commission was one of Mandela’s greatest achievements. It’s what won him and FW De Clerk the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s what created peace and unity in a country that had been terribly segregated. And here are you calling Mandela’s creation a “trumped up exercise”.
            You have no idea what he was about. You think the way to defeat racism is to be a racist. Mandela showed us a better way.
            Today of all days, let’s honour his achievements and what kind of man he really was. He was entirely free of bitterness. He was a unifier, which is why he was universally respected and liked.

            • Mazumbo says:

              One of his greatest achievements from who’s consent, was a census taken with the victims and their families ,did they consult the family of Steve Biko and numerous other families who lost loved ones through this genocide, I respect what Mandela has done and what he endured but this about the country where people are still feeling the remnants of the past. Its like a Dignitary going to a foreign country committing murder and be protected by Diplomatic Immunity!!!!!!

              • Mike Hind says:

                No. It’s nothing like that. What is IS like is realizing, as Madiba said, that happiness demands giving up all hope of a better past.

                Revenge doesn’t work. This has been shown, time and again.

                “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

                “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

                Let go of your hate. Live by Madiba’s example.

              • Suzie Quattro says:

                Ok, Mazumbo, well you can denigrate Nelson Mandela all you want. It’s a free country. You can be as hate-filled and as bitter as you want.

                Most of the rest of us have nothing but admiration for all that Mandela achieved and all that he stood for.

                • Mazumbo says:

                  I wonder if you admired him before he was broken after 27 years when he was labeled a terrorist and communist, and I haven’t denigrated him in any way that’s your perception, all the Freedom Fighters sought to the way of peace when they realized that the adversaries had more fire power.

                  • Mike Hind says:

                    You really are a nasty, nasty person, aren’t you?

                    Many of us actually marched and protested Apartheid in the 80s, but that doesn’t work into your hateful little worldview, does it?

                    It’s hate and racism like yours that kept him in prison for 27 years.

                  • Sandy Bottom says:

                    You are a hate filled racial bigot. You have absolutely nothing in common with Mandela. He would have despised you as much as I do.

          • LOL (original TM*) says:

            So how long should the pendulum be swung the other way? When is the injusticies of the past give way to the injusticies of the present and future? Should white people have rights to a good future or not?

            LOL Guess you would link me to people keeping Mendela in chains based on what….my skin tone…..funny history seem to just repeat itself must be the human factor revenge and all that.

            • Devil's Advocate (The Original) says:

              Minorities have in no way exacted revenge on the white race and definitely not in a way many (most?) deserve. The white race has perpetrated some of the worst atrocities against humanity the world has seen. From the Native Americans to slavery to the Nazis to segregation to biological warfare to Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ to Cointelpro to modern day wars, they have been cruel and ruthless to the peoples of colour of the world with no remorse until those peoples of colour decided to fight back-then whites miraculously see the error of their ways and ‘learn from their mistakes’ and ‘change.’

              The white race has always been motivated by greed and a coveting heart. They see what others have and decide they want it for themselves and feel no way about how they get it-from crimes against Native Americans (smallpox infected blankets anyone?) to stealing Tucker’s Town from blacks in Bermuda. If people of colour never fought back, the white race to this day would have not seen anything wrong with the evil things they were doing-after all, they did it for generations without a thought. There’s no doubt that blacks would still be slaves-passed down from generation to generation along with the houses and furniture-if they had not fought back. South Africa confirms this-while desegregation was happening elsewhere in the world due to successful blacks gaining their rights, the blacks in S. Africa weren’t so successful and didn’t gain their rights. Why didn’t white S. Africans go along with the rest of the world if whites really learned segregation was wrong? The white government was successful in keeping blacks oppressed due to their particularly cruel measures, but they weren’t any different from the whites anywhere else in the world. Whites worldwide wanted to keep blacks in their place but S. Africa was the only country that ‘succeeded’, with many other countries wishing they themselves had been so lucky. How many secretly wished that their countries were the same as S. Africa? Many-they only gave rights away because they were forced, not because they wanted to or really felt it was the right thing to do.

              In any case, we still have a long way to go. There is still a lot of fighting to be done, and it will take generations to weed out this racist ugliness many whites hold in their hearts. Peoples of colour don’t want revenge against anyone and if any whites are going through hard times, it’s not because of ‘revenge’…it’s that little thing called KARMA!!!

              • Sandy Bottom says:

                “The white race has always been motivated by greed and a coveting heart”. Really.
                You do know that defining someone entirely by their race is….

                Oh forget it. It’s a waste of time. You can stay bitter and spend your whole life looking for revenge.

                Today, I’d rather think about a great leader who wanted genuinely to unify people, without bitterness.

                • Devil's Advocate (The Original) says:

                  I’m not ‘bitter.’ Sorry if the truth hurts but it is what it is. It’s a fact that the white race has done massive damage to minorities and it’s a fact that a lot of it was motivated by greed.

                  It’s also a fact that if slavery was not abolished, white people would still own slaves today and think nothing of it…

              • Mazumbo says:

                I don’t think they can comment against that. Well put.

                • Mike Hind says:

                  Wanna bet?

                • Sandy Bottom says:

                  You seem to have a friend. Neither one of you will ever understand what was great about Mandela. Your loss.

              • Mike Hind says:

                “…not in a way that many (most?) deserve.”
                With this, you are saying that revenge IS, in fact the way to go. On a page celebrating the life and mourning the death of Nelson Mandela.
                You get that, right? On THIS, of all pages, you say that most (with a deniability question mark, of course) white folks deserve to have revenge exacted upon them.

                You then go on to denounce an entire race based on the atrocities of some of its members and then actually have the audacity to say that an entire race “has always been motivated by greed and a coveting heart”…

                You sound like one of those racist “scientists” that claimed that black folks aren’t as smart as white folks.

                You then COMPLETELY rewrite history to denounce an entire group of people based solely on the colour of their skin.

                We absolutely have a long way to go… especially with hate and racist ugliness like this completely vile, vicious poison you wrote.

                THIS is not the way forward. This is not the place for hate speech. This is not the place for lies and bitterness.
                This is about a man who worked and fought tirelessly for decades against the exact kind of hate that you are pushing.

                • Devil's Advocate (The Original) says:

                  Oh-and what part of it was ‘lies’? What-did I imagine slavery? Did the Holocaust not happen? Did the settlers not give the pilgrims blankets infected with smallpox in an effort to kill them and then eventually run them off their land (look up ‘Trail of Tears)? Was Tucker’s Town not taken from black Bermudians? Did the CIA not make up lies about civil rights advocates including making up booklets supposed written by blacks proposing to kill whites, and them ‘leaking’ them to whites? Did the Australian government not steal aborigine children from their parents, with those parents never seeing them again and not knowing where they went???

                  I could think of dozens more examples so what part of this is ‘lies’???

                  • Mike Hind says:

                    So, the ENTIRE race is to be judged in a negative light because of these atrocities?

                    Come on.

  9. Navin Johnson says:

    A hero to the world…when you see the cell that he lived in for so many years and survived to be an inspiration and great leader you appreciate the true greatness of the man….there will never be anyone like him again

  10. Bermuda boy says:

    Rest in peace Mr Mandela.

  11. Ex PLP voter says:

    Rest in peace.
    An iconic figure who showed how man should treat man,regardless of life’s hurdles!

  12. JustAskin2 says:

    I consider him one of the greatest heroes in my lifetime. RIP Mr. Mandela.

  13. Ex OBA voter says:

    The OBA could use some of your help.

    • Chit Chat says:

      Not the time not the place for political BS.

      RIP Mr. Mandela

    • Lebron says:

      Seriously ex OBA voter? That is a pathetic response, no party wants or deserves you.

      The greatest leader of a world generation, no more, no less. RIP.

  14. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    You go in peace father Mandela, may each of us find even half the truth you found and there may be hope for us yet.

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

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

    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.

    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.

  15. Never met President Mandela but it was a honor to have known such a person in the realms of true justice and freedom for all South Africans, I am thankful to have had the privilege of travelling to South Africa and meeting so many of his relatives and have walked in Soweto and seen history first hand throughout Jo-berg and Cape Town, looking at the love and respect that south Africans had and still have for such a icon.

    Mandela is and always will be a true legendary individual for all humanity, Rest on my brother as we near the closing of that day were we gather to never have to part no more. Take your place in the great cloud of witnesses, with Dr. Martin Luther king and others.

    • campervan says:

      You know he was a huge proponent of gay rights don’t you Duane? Yes a true legendary individual for “ALL” humanity.

  16. Serious though says:

    Rename Court street , Mandela Street.

    Need help on this! Petition

    • Chit Chat says:

      Great man I agree, but to rename a street after him in Bermuda, sorry I don’t agree. A memorial of some kind maybe. If was Bermudian, had ties to Bermuda, had visited Bermuda and walked down that street then I would be all for it. Sadly we, like most countries, never had the pleasure of a visit from him.

      • Mazumbo says:

        It would have been nice of him to visit but remember Bermuda had a reputation for denying Black Radical Leaders to visit the Island.

        • Mike Hind says:

          In the 90s? Really?

        • Mike Hind says:

          Page 2 of the RG…

          Leaders of the ANC visited Bermuda in the late 80s/early 90s.

          • Mazumbo says:

            That’s why I said (had) past tense!

            • Mike Hind says:

              You were implying that this was the reason he never came here. (Unless you weren’t. Care to explain if this isn’t the case?)

              You were incorrect. Completely.

              Try honesty.

              • Sandy Bottom says:

                Looks like you caught him out in a lie, and now he’s making himself look even more stupid.

              • Mazumbo says:

                No I’m just saying regardless or not if he would have visited Bermuda there would have not been a street or any other means named after him.

              • Mazumbo says:

                I would have loved for him to come here it would have shown how much we have matured considering that our Govt. did not support the anti-apartheid sanctions, we allowed Farrakhan to come after he was banned so I consider that progress.

        • Suzie Quattro says:

          Mazumbo, you talk such nonsense it’s laughable.

  17. Serious though says:

    There are 3 languages that”s make the nation anthem

    Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
    Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
    Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
    Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
    Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
    O fedise dintwa la matshwenyeho,
    O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
    Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika.

    Uit die blou van onse hemel,
    Uit die diepte van ons see,
    Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
    Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

    Sounds the call to come together,
    And united we shall stand,
    Let us live and strive for freedom,
    In South Africa our land

  18. Sandy Bottom says:

    He was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. An inspiration to us all.

  19. sistadee says: