TIME For Kids

Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela was the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.  Photo: Theana Calitz-Bilt—AP

Nelson Mandela was the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
Photo: Theana Calitz-Bilt—AP

BY JUSTIN CHAN

A nation mourns the loss of its former leader, Nelson Mandela, who has died after a long illness. He was 95.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, announced Mandela’s death at a news conference. “We’ve lost our greatest son,” Zuma said.

Mandela was known for ending apartheid, a system that separated whites from nonwhites in South Africa. After spending 27 years in prison for fighting against racial inequality, he became the country’s first democratically elected president. “I think he’s a hero for the world,” said President Barack Obama in a speech during his visit to Senegal in June.

Early Years

Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela on July 18, 1918. He grew up poor in a small South African village. When Mandela was nine, he was adopted by and sent to live with his father’s friend, a prosperous clan chief.

In school, Mandela learned about African history and his ancestors’ struggles with discrimination. He wanted to help his countrymen. He later traveled to Johannesburg, where he studied law and opened the country’s first black law practice. He also joined the African National Congress, a group that fought for racial equality.

Fight Against Apartheid

In 1948, the government introduced apartheid, which left the country’s nonwhite majority with few economic opportunities. In response, Mandela traveled throughout South Africa and encouraged people to take part in nonviolent demonstrations against the government’s racial segregation policies. He was arrested for organizing anti-government activities and eventually sentenced to life in prison. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” he said during his trial. “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela’s imprisonment led to protests around the world and economic sanctions, or limits on trade, against his country.

First Black President

On February 11, 1990, South African president F.W. de Klerk released Mandela from prison, and the two worked together to end apartheid. Three years later, they won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

In 1994, for the first time in South African history, nonwhites were allowed to vote in democratic elections. Mandela was elected president by an overwhelming majority. While in office, he worked to improve housing, education, and economic opportunities for the country’s large black population.

Mandela stepped down as president in 1999. That same year, he created the Nelson Mandela’s Children Fund, a charity that helps poor South African children. “Children are the wealth of our country,” he said in an interview with TFK in 2002. “They must be given love.”

Over the years, Mandela continued working to promote peace around the world. In 2007, he helped found The Elders, an organization of world leaders committed to ending conflicts and promoting human rights. “When you want to get a herd to move in a certain direction,” he told TIME in 1994, “you stand at the back with a stick. Then a few of the more energetic cattle move to the front and the rest of the cattle follow. You are really guiding them from behind. That is how a leader should do his work.”

Advertisements
Standard
TIME For Kids

To the Moon!

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. Photo: NASA

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon.
Photo: NASA

BY JUSTIN CHAN WITH REPORTING FROM TIME

On July 20, 1969, Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. It was a defining moment in American history. More U.S. missions to the moon followed. Now, two congresswomen want to preserve the lunar landing sites by granting them the same protection given to national historical parks. On July 8, Representatives Donna Edwards of Maryland and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas introduced a bill called the Apollo Lunar Legacy Act, which would establish a national park on the moon.

Under the proposed bill, historical artifacts like this footprint would be preserved. Photo: Rob Atkins

Under the proposed bill, historical artifacts like this footprint would be preserved.
Photo: Rob Atkins

Protecting the Landing Sites

The purpose of the act is to preserve the sites for scientific research and to improve public understanding of the Apollo program. Apollo is the name of the spacecraft used by American astronauts between 1969 and 1972. If passed, the bill would protect artifacts, such as footprints and equipment, left behind during the seven Apollo missions. It would also require the United States to ask the United Nations to designate the Apollo 11 landing site as a World Heritage Site.

“In light of other nations and private entities developing or already having developed the ability to go to the moon, the United States must be proactive in protecting artifacts left by the seven Apollo lunar landings,” Congresswoman Johnson said in an email message to TIME For Kids. “This bill will help ensure that this unique aspect of our cultural heritage is preserved.”

Some critics say that the bill does not require immediate attention because NASA does not have plans to return to the moon. Countries like China and Japan have only hinted about sending people there around 2025, but no one knows whether that will happen. Other critics question whether the bill can be enforced and say that it may even violate an international treaty. In 1967, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed that no country could make a claim on the moon.

Making History

Buzz Aldrin steps off the Eagle lunar module and prepares to step on the moon's surface. Photo: NASA

Buzz Aldrin steps off the Eagle lunar module and prepares to step on the moon’s surface.
Photo: NASA

In May 1961, NASA announced the Apollo program, with the purpose of landing on the moon. In 1967, plans for the first manned Apollo flight ended tragically, when a fire broke out in the Apollo 1 spacecraft during a ground test. All three astronauts on board were killed. The next year, NASA conducted several unmanned flights around the Earth and a manned flight around the moon. In 1969, the country finally achieved its first successful moon landing, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon’s surface.

NASA would continue to send missions to the moon in the 1970s. In 1971, Apollo 14’s David Scott, Alfred Worden, and James Irwin were the first to use a lunar rover. The following year, John Young, Thomas Mattingly, and Charles Duke became the first to land in the lunar highlands. The last flight of the Apollo program took place in December 1972.

Now, more than 40 years since the last Apollo mission, the Apollo Lunar Legacy Act is making its way through Congress. “I know that it can sound far-fetched to say that we are going to have a national park on the moon,” said Congresswoman Johnson. But she believes it’s important to preserve the lunar landing sites. “These are an important reminder of what has made America great and serve as an inspiration for future generations.”

Standard
TIME For Kids

Sadness in Arizona

Flames can be seen as the Yarnell Hill Fire moves towards Peeples Valley, Arizona on June 30. Photo: Tom Story - The Arizona Republic/AP

Flames can be seen as the Yarnell Hill Fire moves towards Peeples Valley, Arizona on June 30.
Photo: Tom Story – The Arizona Republic/AP

BY JUSTIN CHAN WITH AP REPORTING

On Friday, lightning sparked a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona, about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, the state’s capital. The fire turned deadly on Sunday, June 28, claiming the lives of 19 firefighters. Known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the firefighters were part of a 20-member fire crew from nearby Prescott, Arizona.

A plane drops retardant, a chemical substance, on the Yarnell Hill Fire to protect a ranch near Peeples Valley, Arizona. Photo: Tom Story - The Arizona Republic/AP

A plane drops retardant, a chemical substance, on the Yarnell Hill Fire to protect a ranch near Peeples Valley, Arizona.
Photo: Tom Story – The Arizona Republic/AP

“We are heartbroken about what happened,” President Barack Obama said from Africa, where he is traveling with his family. In a statement issued by the White House, Obama called the firefighters “heroes” who “selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet.”

The crew had recently fought fires in Prescott and New Mexico before they were called to battle the Yarnell Hill Fire. The blaze has now spread over more than 8,000 acres. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Residents were forced to evacuate, or leave, the area.

As of Monday afternoon, fire crews were still working to contain the blaze.

Honoring Heroes

The Granite Mountain Hotshots were honored at the Prescott fire station with a homemade memorial that included flowers and American flags. One member of the fire crew escaped harm because he had left the area to move the team’s truck, authorities said.

Toby Schultz lays flowers at the gate of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew fire station in Prescott, Arizona on July 1. Photo: Julie Jacobson - AP

Toby Schultz lays flowers at the gate of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew fire station in Prescott, Arizona on July 1.
Photo: Julie Jacobson – AP

“We’re very proud of them,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said of the firefighters at a news conference on Monday. Arizona governor Jan Brewer spoke next at the conference. She called the men “brave.” Throughout the state, flags will be flown at half-mast to honor the firefighters.

Fire Season

Wildfires spread easily during the summer, when the weather is hot and dry. They are common in Western states, including California, New Mexico, and Utah. In Colorado, lighting ignited a fire on June 5. Fueled by strong wind and dead trees, flames spread across 114 miles and affected several towns and tourist areas. At least 600 firefighters battled the blaze for several weeks before it was brought under control.

Last year, around 68,000 wildfires took place and affected more than 9 million acres of land, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Lightning fires cause an estimated 17,400 fires every year, and more than half of them occur outside, where trees, brush, and grass easily ignite, the agency’s research notes. In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the group offers wildfire safety tips to help people stay out of danger.

Standard