“In a world afflicted by conflicts and divisions, peace is a foundation on which to build the future. The peace parks are the pillars of this process”.
These are Nelson Mandela’s words, the promoter of the “Peace Parks”, the man to whom the women of the native communities of the Limpopo Park sing sacred thanksgiving songs.
Mandela was born in South Africa on the 18th of July 1918, son of Thembu tribe chief, in the Qunu village, in the Transkei region, where he received the honorific title of “Madiba”, from the elders. Strong supporter of schooling and education, which he knows can save him from a destiny that seems to be already written.
At 22 years old he chose to follow the path of the liberation fight from apartheid. He flees his village, reaches Johannesburg and enrolls in Law, where he joins the African National Congress (ANC) and gains note for his ideas, climbing to the peaks of the Assembly. He takes the side of the victims of the white regime repression using his legal office, and, accused of treason, he is absolved six years later. He fathers four children losing three to AIDS, disease against which he will fight for all his life.
1960 marks the darkest moment in South African history, when the police kill 69 people in a protest demonstration in Sharpeville. Following that Mandela opts for armed struggle and in 1963 he’s condemned to life imprisonment for treason.
Thus starts the long exile in Robben Island, where he remains for 27 years and from where he conducts the struggle against apartheid. The world then notices the integrity of this man, who was released on the 11th February 1990, when, before an immense crowd, he announces the end of the racist regime beside Frederick de Klerk, the last President of segregationist South Africa and his future vice President when, in 1994, he becomes the first colored Head of South African State. In 1993 they will be jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mandela goes on to become a legend that will inspire millions of people throughout the world. In 2004 he retires from politics but continues to be a universal reference point, icon of justice, tenacity and courage: a man who has changed his own country, and the world too.