After awakening to the power of nonviolence, conducting many successful experiments in it, and refining some of its key features as a method for mass social empowerment, Gandhi left South Africa after 21 years. The year was 1914. Four years later, while Gandhi is conducting new experiments in India, Nelson Mandela is born. The soil was certainly fertile.
Drawing from the legacy of Satyagraha and non-cooperation, Mandela was imprisoned in the midst of the political period known as “apartheid,” which means “separateness,” in Afrikaans. (Note that from the perspective of nonviolence, separateness is a root of violence itself.) Imprisonment did not convince him to end his struggle. He remained faithful to his vision of the just world, convinced that the people of South Africa deserved a more dignified existence together. After 27 years of humiliation and cruel treatment, he was released, at the height of the struggle to end the apartheid regime, to be greeted by cheering crowds of tens of thousands. Four years later, he became the first black President of a democratic South Africa, inspiring people around the world to his example of courage and faith until his death in 2013. For Satyagrahis like Mandela, even death is not a defeat.
Read Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration speech.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com