Nelson Mandela - Global statesman and peace icon
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Globally respected as a symbol of resistance against injustice, Nelson Mandela brought an end to the much-despised apartheid regime in South Africa while spreading the spirit of freedom in the rest of Africa.
Incarcerated for 27 years through much of his youth, Mandela became the first-ever elected black president of his country, ushering in multi-racial democracy replacing the whites-only rule.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's principle of Ahimsa, especially his campaign in South Africa itself during his days as a lawyer, Mandela also preached against violence though the struggle against the apartheid regime was marked by violent incidents.
The 95-year-old Nobel laureate was one of the world's most revered statesmen and was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour in 1990.
Mandela, who had been suffering from a recurring lung infection, died early today following a prolonged spell of ill-health.
He led the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy.
Jailed for 27 years, Mandela emerged to become the country's first black president and to play a leading role in the drive for peace in other spheres of conflict. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
His charisma, self-deprecating sense of humour and lack of bitterness over his harsh treatment, as well as his amazing life story, partly explain his extraordinary global appeal.
Mandela's crusade against the apartheid regime of South Africa, has often drawn a parallel with Mahatma Gandhi's fight against the British rule in India.
Mandela, who always praised Gandhi for his principles of 'Satya and Ahimsa', at an unveiling of Gandhi Memorial in South Africa in 1993, had said, "The Mahatma is an integral part of our history because it is here that he first
experimented with truth; here that he demonstrated his characteristic firmness in pursuit of justice; here that he developed Satyagraha as a philosophy and a method of struggle."