Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in a small village in the Transkei called Mvezo. This beautiful part of South Africa is today known as the Eastern Cape and is characterised by its rolling hills, streams and the magnificent Drakensberg mountains. Our humanitarian icon Nelson Mandela was the only member of his family to receive formal education, and so, from a very young age, Madiba started to unknowingly prepare himself for the great task that was bestowed on him. He enrolled at Fort Hare (the only black university in South Africa during that time) in 1939, where he met some of his lifelong friends who fought the struggle to freedom with him.
He started working as an apprentice at a legal firm in Johannesburg, where Mandela was famously warned against the world of politics. But the everyday life of a black South African made it impossible for him not to react to his environment. During this time Mandela struggled with the idea that his own family was suffering while he was fighting for the rights of others - a selfless act that paid off more than he would ever hope for. After years of secret meetings across South Africa and abroad, Madiba was sentenced to lifelong imprisonment for his involvement in the political opposition. Before he was sentenced at the infamous Rivonia-trial, Nelson Mandela said that he was willing to die for his beliefs, and that he, during his lifetime of 46 years, fought against white rule and against black rule, while fighting for a harmonious society where all are equal.
He entered the prison at Robben Island as an angry young man after all the wrong that had been done to him and his people, but left after 27 years as a man who was able to forgive those who had done him harm. Humanitarian hero Nelson Mandela did the unthinkable by forgetting the evils of the past and focussing solely on the unification of a divided nation. And that is why, 17 years after our first democratic election, every South African still walks with the Madiba-jive in our steps.