Today’s front page, honoring fallen president, Nobel laureate and international hero Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address: Times reporter Emily Alpert put together a collection of notable videos from Mandela’s life, including a clip from the day he was released from prison; a montage of speeches assembled by the UN; an early TV appearance; and more.
"Only free men can negotiate. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated." —Nelson Mandela to then-South African President Pieter W. Botha, in 1985.
"Fellow South Africans, Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell." —current South African President Jacob Zuma, announcing Mandela’s death today.
An article titled “8 Foes of Apartheid Get Life Terms in S. Africa" appeared in the L.A. Times on June 13, 1964. Here’s what the paper’s front page looked like on the day of Mandela’s release from prison, February 11, 1990. In December of that year, he spoke optimistically about South Africa’s future in this interview:
Q: What sort of South Africa do you envisage?
A: Very simple. It is a South Africa based on the Freedom Charter (a manifesto drawn up by the ANC and political allies in the 1950s), which is our basic policy; … a non-racial society where all population groups would enjoy equality before the law, and where all forms of racial discrimination were abolished. It is a South Africa where there will be a bill of rights defining the rights of citizens, a bill of rights that is entrenched by the ability of any person who considers his rights are threatened or violated to have access to an independent judiciary. It is a South Africa in which there will be political parties; where political dissent will not be dealt with in a way that shows a lack of patience and a lack of political tolerance.
Here’s Mandela’s obituary in the L.A. Times, by Deputy Managing Editor Scott Kraft, who covered Mandela as a reporter (you’ll see his byline more than once on the front page linked above); Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Bob Drogin, who described Mandela as “the most remarkable man I ever met” in a tweet today; and Johannesburg correspondent Robyn Dixon (who has also been covering today’s events on Twitter). More recommended reading: a timeline of Mandela’s life; a first-person account of growing up in a changing South Africa by Times photojournalist Jerome Adamstein; a recollection of his 1990 L.A. visit by columnist Patt Morrison; and Mandela’s own address to those assembled at a Cape Town rally upon his release from prison in February 1990.
Top photo: Mandela and his then-wife Winnie, along with L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley, on the steps of City Hall during a trip to Los Angeles on June 29, 1990. Credit: Los Angeles Times
Middle photo: Mandela holds up the key to the city that he was presented by Mayor Bradley, also on June 29, 1990. Credit: Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Mandela visits L.A.’s First AME Church on July 9, 1993. Credit: Los Angeles Times. More photos from Mandela’s life.
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Remembering Nelson Mandela
The renowned world leader and civil rights icon passed away today at the age of 95.
Mandela himself was reticent to indulge in the myth-making that surrounded him:
"In real life we deal not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves: men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous," he wrote in a letter to his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, from prison in 1979.
But his lifetime of action, and transformation from being branded a terrorist and imprisoned by his opponents to a universally-applauded hero for not just his homeland of South Africa, but the whole world, makes him more than one of those “ordinary humans.”
Read our full obituary of Mandela, or follow along Mandela’s incredible life in our timeline.
Photos: Kim Ludbrook / EPA, John Parkin / Associated Press, Jurgen Shadberg / Getty Images
Can anything save endangered rhino populations?
A startling 90% of Africa’s rhinos live in South Africa, where a new report comissioned by the government finds that anti-poaching efforts have largely failed. Last year, 668 rhinos were killed. So far this year, more than 500 have been poached.
Mavuso Msimang, the country’s resident rhino expert, paints a grim picture for the rhino’s future:
"The data suggest that the banning of legal open trade in rhino horn has not resulted in reduced demand for the horn and has thus not helped the objective of saving the rhino from imminent extinction. Escalation in the slaughter of rhino is proof of this. Consumers simply do not believe that rhino horn has no medicinal value."
So what can be done? The rhino horn trade is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the South African let loose its own stockpile of horns obtained by rhinos that passed away from natural causes in hopes of sending the price of horns in a freefall.
But that’s not to say that loosening restrictions on the rhino trade will work either, as Msimang’s critics point to South Africa’s rampant corruption as a cause for concern.
Photos: Stephane de Sakutin / AFP/Getty Images, Los Angeles Times
July 18, 2013: Nelson Mandela is Born
On this day in 1918, former South African President Nelson Mandela was born in a small village in Transkei province, South Africa.
The political activist’s negotiations with South African President F.W. de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation in the early 1990s. In 1993, both Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A year later, Mandela went on to become the nation’s first black president after the country held its first democratic election in 1994. While in office, Mandela continued to work to bring peace and healing to the racially divided nation.
Recently, Nelson Mandela’s health has been an ongoing concern. He has been hospitalized for more than five weeks due to a recurring lung infection and remains in critical yet stable condition.
Retrace Nelson Mandela’s early life with the FRONTLINE’s The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela timeline.
Photo: Nelson Mandela arrives to give a lecture at London School of Economics, 2000 (Wikimedia Commons).
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A rare look into the world of the “Butterfly Whisperer”
Mark Williams is a well-known figure in the lepidopterist community, both as the founder of the Lepidopterists’ Society, and for his active role in the pursuit of rare and exotic butterflies.
Our own Robyn Dixon headed down to South Africa to document his work, including one particularly heated pursuit of the Lotana blue, a butterfly previously assumed to be extinct.
As for the issue of the butterfly faithful ultimately catching and killing individual endangered specimens? Williams says there’s no conflict inherent in the death needed for research.
"No knowledgeable lepidopterist would find it ironic. In fact, they would mostly likely be flabbergasted if voucher specimens were not collected," Williams said. "Five pairs of rhinoceroses, breeding remorselessly, would not reach a total population of a hundred in 10 years. Five pairs of African monarchs would reach about 36 million in six months. Laypersons don’t understand this, unfortunately."
His latest mission is the hunt to find the “holy grail” of South African butterflies, the Bashee River buff. Said Williams of his new mission:
"It’s 1 1/2 centuries it’s been missing. We don’t even know what the male looks like."
"The cost of the trip is around 20,000 rand [$2,000] to go and look for a butterfly that I might not even find," he said.
Read more in our latest Column One feature
Photos: Hannelie Coetzee / Los Angeles Times
After a life of labor, a poor African’s dream is realized: After years of working in South Africa, Samkeliso Moyo, once a girl with no shoes, is on her way to Zimbabwe and her children, carrying her savings and a dream.
This piece by Times staffer Robyn Dixon is absolutely your must-read of the day.
All over Africa, people like Moyo are making their way out of poverty. A report last year by the African Development Bank said the continent’s middle class had tripled in the last 30 years, encompassing one-third of the total population, or 313 million people.
Make no mistake, millions still live in dire poverty, accounting for about a quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, where just 100,000 people hold 80% of the wealth, according to the report. And the bank’s definition of “lower middle class” (anyone earning $4 to $10 a day) and “upper middle class” (anyone earning $10 to $20 a day) underscores how different they are from their Western counterparts.
But the growing middle class has a massive transformative effect on Africa and fuels future growth. As people buy things they need beyond sustenance — clothing, phones, motorcycles, improved housing — they create jobs. By paying school fees, they provide their children with the education to find better jobs and consolidate the family gains.
The report found that “growth of the middle class is associated with better governance, economic growth and poverty reduction. It appears that as people gain middle-class status, they are likely to use their greater economic clout to demand more accountable governments.”
For most of those 313 million Africans, the grinding haul out of poverty is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Photo: Samkeliso Moyo’s hard-earned savings from her work as a domestic worker in South Africa enabled her to fulfill her dream of owning a home in her native Zimbabwe. Credit: Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times
Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio: In South Africa, abalone shells covered with pigment and tools for making paints are found in a cave, suggesting humans began thinking symbolically much earlier than previously recognized.
Photo: Archeologists found evidence of a prehistoric art studio in Blombos Cave in South Africa. Credit: Magnus Haaland
As a boy, William Gumede fought off bullies who saw the books he carried as something for sissies. Now he’s a prominent author, and still struggles with cultural bias against reading.
Photo: Author William Gumede reads his latest book to a rapt audience in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: Leon Sadiki, City Press / Gallo Images
In South Africa’s black townships, being gay can be fatal. Noxolo Nogwaza died because she dressed like a man and wasn’t afraid of anyone, friends and backers in Kwa-Thema say, one of the latest of a series of brutal rapes and killings of black lesbian women.
Photo: In South Africa, patrons visit a predominantly gay tavern in Kwa-Thema, east of Johannesburg. Credit: Denis Farrell / Associated Press
South African icon Nelson Mandela hid a gun in the 1960s before his arrest. It hasn’t been found, but when a house was put up for auction, hopes were raised. Parts of the grounds have been excavated and an adjoining property demolished in the search for the historic weapon he buried.
Photo: Liliesleaf Farm in the Rivonia district of northern Johannesburg is where South African icon Nelson Mandela hid out before his arrest in 1962. Credit: Stephane de Sakutin / AFP/Getty Images