VKN Badass Guys: Nelson Mandela

Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Badass Guys Series.

It’s hard to think about political activism and reform without bringing up the legendary revolutionary Nelson Mandela. He’s been a man of many titles, Prince of South Africa, political visionary, lawyer, activist, and even considered by many of his nation’s leaders at one time to be a terrorist. Mandela is widely considered a badass for his work in ending apartheid with a non-violent approach.

Check out a couple more of the reasons VK Nagrani thinks Nelson Mandela is a badass below.

1. Political Prisoner

Mandela was the first one of his royal family to attend college, where during his time struggled against the racially divided country. Blacks in South Africa were second hand citizens and regarded with disdain, even though they carried a large majority of the population. Mandela saw this disparity and rose up against it, leading non violent marches against the state. He was labeled a terrorist by his countrymen and imprisoned to life in jail. His incarceration was a rallying cry for opponents of apartheid as worldwide demand for his release increased.

While in prison, he earned a Bachelor’s of Law degree and learned to sew clothes from the yard of Robben Island Prison. Being self-sufficient through making your own textiles and clothing is pretty badass if you ask me.

2. Ended Apartheid

Much of his work towards organizing groups to rise up against apartheid in South Africa were from behind bars. But, when he was released he was free to weigh in on the matters of ending the racist regimes of apartheid. Much like several of his badass contemporaries, Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and Professor X, he employed a rigid stance on nonviolence and passivity to accomplish his goals, and in 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Mandela shared the award with then President of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, for releasing him and agreeing to a peaceful transition to majority rule.

3. First Black President of South Africa

He spent 27 years in prison, (more than T.I., Lil Wayne, and Lindsay Lohan combined) while protracted negotiations in dark rooms took place, and the South African regime relented and finally set Mandela free. Just one year from his release, in the first democratically chosen election, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa, where he effectively ended apartheid and the structural racism that had been present for decades.

4. Founded the Elders

Stand aside Jay Z and the Illuminati, Nelson Mandela created his own group of world leaders called “The Elders” which was designed to utilize international non-government figures and human rights advocates to find solutions that plague the inhabitants of Earth: climate change, poverty, the threat of HIV/AIDS, and various other planetary conflicts.

5. Has a Day Named After Him

For a lifetime of work in the betterment of the entire human race, the UN declared that his birthday, July 18, be considered internationally as Mandela Day. You might not get the day off of work, but having your own holiday is pretty badass regardless.

Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more editions of our Badass Guys Series.


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My work is about far more than creating clothing and a responsibility to myself, the consumer and the human existence. I do not design clothing, I engineer a wardrobe that offers versatility, function and sophistication. I am more focused on raising the bar and creating a timeless aesthetic. Trends are futile. For those that seek the exquisite, you will truly enjoy my work. After all, it was created with you in mind.​​

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