Growing up we all wanted to be something in life.
Our parents and teachers would encourage us to choose careers we liked and sometimes they would tell us which careers to choose based on their experiences. I
t is also a dream of every parent to see their child succeed and be the best they can be.
This is also true of former President Nelson Mandela, whose dream was to become a lawyer.
Madiba was infl uenced by circumstances to become a lawyer so that he could fi ght the injustices of apartheid.
His dream became true when he met struggle icon Walter Sisulu who helped him get a job as an article clerk in a law firm and he qualifi ed as an attorney in 1952.
He later partnered with his friend Oliver Tambo to open the fi rst black legal practice
and represented many black people in court especially those who could not afford legal fees.
To open the fi rst black law firm at the time was a huge achievement because racism was rife
and the apartheid government made it diffi cult for black people to become lawyers.
According to the 1946 population census, there were only 18 black lawyers and 13 article clerks in the country.
These numbers had not substantially changed six years later when Madiba became a lawyer.
Instead of using his achievement to simply earn a living and create wealth, he chose to fi ght for the greater good of the majority.
His commitment was to make a positive impact on the lives of the people of this country as he believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.
It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the signifi – cance of the life we lead”.
It is against this background that he refused to live a lifestyle that was not enjoyed by the majority people in this country but used his legal skills to fi ght for the equal treatment of black people.
He also believed that law alone was not enough to solve all the problems of the country at the time.
This is why he got involved in politics and led the defi ance campaigns against pass laws.
This is despite being warned by some in the legal profession that his involvement in politics would damage the credibility of his law firm.
But he stood firm nonetheless and paid a steep price for his defi – ance.
His involvement in politics and the sacrifices he made led to him being arrested,
banned from addressing people and severely restricted from travelling.
Madiba’s courage inspired many people both in the country and around the world to be active in politics.
He has shown us that it takes courage of one man to start a movement that will change
our country for the better and create a society where all may live in peace and harmony.
The year 2018 also marks the centenary of the birth of another stalwart Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu.
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