Nelson Mandela (Courtesy VOA News)
Nelson Mandela (Courtesy VOA News)

Nelson Mandela died Dec. 5, at the age of 95. After his historic term as South African president, he remained a larger-than-life figure, garnering awards and recognition.

“Mandela was elected president in 1994 and retired in 1999 after one term, and in doing so lived up to his dictum that ‘great leaders gain authority by giving it away,’” said Carlos Juarez, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science at Hawai‘i Pacific University.

Juarez specializes in diplomacy and international relations and has been a consultant to the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

Here are Juarez’s observations on Mandela’s rise to power and his lasting legacy.

• He was the first democratically elected president of South Africa

• Ensured the destruction of the racist apartheid system without the need for widespread bloodshed.

• Followed in footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi as a giant in use of civil disobedience.

• During 27 years in prison, consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

• Emerged from imprisonment unbowed by his harsh treatment and determined to bring reconciliation between the races in his country.

• Elected president in 1994 and retired in 1999 after one term.

• Awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993.

Hawai‘i Pacific University is the state’s largest private university with 7,000 students from the United States and more than 80 foreign nations. HPU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Council on Social Work Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.