He was a lawyer in a nation where the law despised him, on sight; he fought nobly and civilly, when his country of South Africa's treatment of him and his racial peers was neither civil nor right.
Let that rhyme resonate, for it is as timeless a theme for those disenfranchised when and wherever injustice prevails. This one man personified what Benjamin Disraeli, a high-profile Jew in a largely hostile gentile world knew of justice-----that it was, and is, nothing less than truth in action.
And, so, long before Alfred Nobel's trustees---and the rest of the world---acknowledged his truthful words and deeds aimed at naked inhumane power, Nelson Mandela recognized their superior strength, knowing in his heart that those who go too far always go too far. And, he was prepared to patiently wait until the truth's critical massive weight came down with an equal and opposite force whose secret was that it did violence, as ever, solely to the lie.
Wordsworth poeticized that 'the child is father to the man'; as another truth which cannot be denied, what of the Child, 'Nelson'.
As he said in 1994, he still has no idea why his British-influenced teacher so dubbed him, as was then customary. I would like to believe that she somehow saw the Lord Nelson in him, even then. What he does know is that he was born to a royal clan, known as Xhosa, wherein his name (now his middle name) was 'Rohlilahla', meaning 'troublemaker'.
That moniker is often interpreted to connote trouble for others, yet, as we know, it became a two-edged blade which cut in both directions to include that heaped upon him, howsoever inhumanely, unjustly.
Orphaned at nine, he claims as fatherly inheritance his 'rebellious pride' and 'stubborn sense of fairness.' Here I must pause, if only to give proper weight to seemingly unrelated, even irrelevant notions, namely, Fate or Destiny. Coined by the Greeks (although I am certain other cultures senses 'them', even if by other or unknown names in the West). The same people who gave us Plato and Aristotle and the atom cannot be, therefore, considered frivolously superstitious. While we stubbornly cling to the fuzzy concept of free will, I submit that for Nelson Mandela his 'free' will may be defined literally-----his will was to be, and set, free.
Mandiba--his Xhosa clan name now heard sung outside his hospital--grew, less and less constrained by 'custom, ritual and taboo', as he himself has said.
He became a Christian (Methodist) early on, and indulged in long-distance running and boxing as outlets for his great energies, along with ballroom dancing and performing in a theatrical production concerning Abraham Lincoln (see remarks about Fate/Destiny, above).
While he avoided joining the African National Congress owing to its racially-driven (as opposed to class struggle) and atheistic gravamen, he befriended many members and was impressed with the blithe mixing of races amongst its followers, including two very influential Jews whom he met whilst working at a clerking post in their law firm. (see: Disraeli reference, above).
After receiving his B.A., he found (term used advisedly, a la Fate) himself pursuing the law and eschewing tribal perquisites which may have landed him in its hierarchy. He put it this way: "(I) simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise." He was the only African in the class.
It was here that he gravitated toward the ANC where many old friends were now prominent; he eventually gave birth to its Youth League. Despite his closeness and eventual office-holding at the ANC he was no communist, he was later convicted of the inane charge of 'statutory communism'. He was banned from active political work for a time, but remained loyal to J. Nehru's preachments as inspiration, amongst others.
Ultimately, he entered law practice with Oliver Tambo, seeing that the law could be a nonviolent weapon as well as a shield once properly attuned to the humane needs of the populace. It was the only black firm in the country, thus making it a clear target of the status quo.
Forced to seek aid from foreign countries such as China in the struggle---one which he, reluctantly, realized needed some strength of arms---he was eventually tried for treason in 1956 and, after a time of release pending trial, sentenced to the unforgettable incarceration of 27 years we all now know to have been part of the Fate he now met full-on. While on release, he became known as The Black Pimpernel, owing to his selfless acts over the years of temporary release of aiding and abetting others who shared his ultimate goal---the end of apartheid.
He was later 'captured' and tried on other charges, which he refused to acknowledge by wearing tribal dress and addressing the court politically as opposed to legally, inasmuch as the sham laws and proceedings charging him were offensive to both humane logic and, yes, his unconscious Destiny.
Bob Dylan, another Jew who, like us, has been likely mightily impressed (as is this one) with Mr. Mandela, wrote---no doubt, with potential, even unborn, beings like Nelson in mind, including Dylan's own children---'..may you always be courageous and stand upright and be strong..'
Remain, Nelson Mandela, forever young, and dwell in the hearts of all persons, young or old, forever.