Former South African President Nelson Mandela would have turned 100 today, July 18. He passed away in December 2013 at the age of 95, having led a remarkable life as an anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist.
In 1948, Mandela led protests against apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination that lasted in South Africa until the early 1990s. He was arrested for his opposition to many of the government’s policies and sentenced to life in prison in 1962. Mandela spent 27 years behind bars until his release in February 1990.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected as first Black president of South Africa in 1994, a position he held before stepping down five years later.
Mandela’s consistent fight against injustice set an example of courage, resistance, change and forgiveness. Former U.S. President Barack Obama gave a exceptional speech defending unity at Mandela’s centenary in Johannesburg yesterday, July 17. “Madiba reminds us that no one is born hating another person because the color of his skin… 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,” he said, drawing from Mandela’s life to continue to push a message of equality and progress.
LIVE: Former President Obama speaks at Nelson Mandela's centenary in Johannesburg, South Africa. https://t.co/Qu17r9zZBF
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 17, 2018
Take a look at the list below of other prominent figures who paid tribute to Madiba.
— Steve Harvey (@IAmSteveHarvey) July 18, 2018
On what would have been his 100th birthday, when his vision for an inclusive community is once again under attack in the U.S. and across the world, we should remember Nelson Mandela not just for who he was, but also for his conviction about who we can still become. #MandelaDay pic.twitter.com/kNs9Te6UuG
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) July 18, 2018
Nelson Mandela’s sacrifice and triumph teach us what a powerful impact one person can have. “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.” #Mandela100 pic.twitter.com/zZ4qAh7Izg
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 18, 2018
Mandela Day is about taking action to change the world for the better. In these young people, I see Madiba's example of persistence and hope. They are poised to make this world more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just. pic.twitter.com/GJDuOs1hkH
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 18, 2018
"It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor…that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation." – Nelson Mandela #Mandela100 pic.twitter.com/Dj62BPEkkv
— Malala (@Malala) July 18, 2018
Nelson Mandela was tireless in his pursuit of equality and justice for all. As we celebrate #Mandela100, let’s resolve to do everything we can to create the world he dreamed of. #MandelaDay pic.twitter.com/HUDuRrgX7R
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) July 18, 2018
Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela! “Madiba,” as he was known to his people, would have been 100 today. In 1996, Michael attended the South African president’s birthday party on a break from the HIStory world tour. pic.twitter.com/NRFG6PT3Kk
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) July 18, 2018
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) July 18, 2018
Wishing a Happy Birthday to the inspiring, life changing and courageous Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 100th Birthday today. Love. pic.twitter.com/uXiXzbGrNt
— COMMON (@common) July 18, 2018
“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.”
—Nelson Mandela #Mandela100
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 18, 2018
Happy 100th to the vigilante for justice…. a true warrior against oppression…. South Africa’s Legendary Great… Nelson Mandela!!! Thank you and all of your family for your immeasurable sacrifice King. 🙏🏽👑🙏🏽👑 pic.twitter.com/bdkfDeSeiA
— T.I. (@Tip) July 18, 2018
Happy Birthday to My Hero Nelson Mandela. To all the fans at the Nelson Mandela tribute in Portugal today, I'm sorry I won't be able to be there. Warriors remember to take action, inspire change, and make every day Mandela day. pic.twitter.com/CKaqv9W7mh
— Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) July 18, 2018
What's Your Reaction?
Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.