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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

From 1948 to 1994 apartheid was enforced in South Africa. Apartheid was the name given to a form of legal segregation in South Africa. Apartheid first came about in 1948 when South Africa’s National party took power. South Africa’s government broke the country’s population into four groups. Those groups were the whites, who included approximately 13 percent of the population, Africans, who were 77 percent of the population, people who were of mixed descent comprised eight percent of the population, and Asians who were only 2 percent of the population. South Africa’s government set aside certain lands for each of the groups, and those groups were forced to live in those homelands. Besides residential segregation many other restrictions were placed on the black men and women of South Africa.

For half of a century, these racist laws remained in place, completely unchanged. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the government in South Africa relaxed the laws slightly. Some of these changes included desegregating certain public facilities, lifting some occupational restriction, and repealing the law prohibiting intermarriage that had been in use since apartheid began. In 1983, the constitution allowed Asians and coloreds, but not blacks to have limited representation in the usually all white parliament. Thanks to the help of many people, apartheid was completely abolished in 1994.

In 1990 President F.W. de Klerk committed himself to the abolition of apartheid. De Klerk knew that one of the first steps that he would have to take was to reincorporate the homelands (Homelands, are places where a certain race is forced to live away from other races.) into South Africa. In order to do that de Klerk had to repeal The Group Areas Act of 1966, and the Lands Act of 1913, and 1936. The same month that both those laws were repealed The Population Registration Act of 1950 was also erased. The Population Registration Act required that all South Africa's record their race with the government. In 1991, de Klerk's government started to make a new constitution that would make South Africa’s government a nonracial democracy. The whites in South Africa agreed with the new congress, and in 1993 The African National congress agreed to change their government. South Africa’s first non-racist election took place in 1994, and the African National Congress won that election. The new president was a recently released inmate by the name of Nelson Mandela. who played an important and controversial role in the ending of a segregated South Africa and the establishing of South Africa as a Democratic country.

Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela is born in a small village in the Transkei province in the Eastern Cape of South Africa on July 18, 1918. He was in a tribe called The Madiba, his tribal clan, part of the Thembu people. His family has royal acquaintances. His great-grandfather was a King and Mandela's father is a respected counselor to the royal Thembu family. His father has four wives and he is one of thirteen children.

On his first day of school, Rolihlahla is given the English name Nelson by an African teacher. After receiving a good education at local boarding schools, Mandela enters Fort Hare University and completes two years before deciding that he should leave for Johannesburg to avoid a marriage arranged for him by his guardian, Chief Jongintaba. Mandela then earns his B.A. degree, enrolls in law school and joins the ANC (AFRICAN NATONAL CONGRESS) which is an organization that was established in 1918 to promote black freedom.

Believing that the ANC leadership is too staid, Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu form the ANC Youth League. They plan to organize mass support for the ANC and make it a more verbal organization.1948; the National Party comes to power under Dr. Daniel Malan. His platform is called apartheid, meaning "apartness." They make new laws supporting racial discrimination and almost deleting almost all black rights.

In 1949, The ANC responds to the new apartheid policies, the ANC drafts a Program of Action calling for mass strikes, boycotts, protests and resistance. In 1951, Mandela becomes national president of the ANC Youth League. After that it is all downhill and Mandela is arrested several times. Later 1952, He draws up a plan for the ANC to work underground called the M-Plan. Early 1960’s Mandela escapes the country and travels in Africa and Europe, studying guerrilla warfare and building support for the ANC. Late 1962,

Returning to South Africa, Mandela is arrested, convicted and sentenced to five years. He is held on Robben Island. He is held there for more then 20 years.

Even in prison, Mandela was able continue his struggle for a nonracial, united and democratic South Africa. While in prison he wrote many papers and speeches, which have been collected and published. He received many international prizes as well as a number of honorary doctorates from universities. His most prestigious award was the Nobel prize that he shared with Frederick W. de Klerk, for negotiating South Africa’s peaceful transition to multiracial democracy.

Mandela was such an influential speaker that his writings while in prison were closely monitored. When he was released, however, he made a speech at a press conference, which read “...I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days. ” Which is probably won of the most well known excerpts from one of his speeches.

1985, United States Senator Edward Kennedy visits South Africa to show his anti-apartheid support. He is hosted by Bishop Desmond Tutu the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize; Kennedy also visits Winnie Mandela, Nelson’s Wife. Same year, South Africa's church leaders take up the anti-apartheid cause, led by Bishop Tutu. Late1985, during the summer, anti-apartheid rallies and protests take place in New York City, Atlanta and Washington.

North America keeps up their support when world famous musicians, including Bruce Springsteen and Miles Davis, release the anti-apartheid disk "Sun City.” The song "Free Nelson Mandela" reaches the Top Ten on rock-music charts in England. Feb 2 1990, In a dramatic speech to Parliament, de Klerk (head of getting Mandela out of jail) announces the lifting of the bans against the ANC and other political organizations.

February 11 1990, after 27 years of imprisonment, Mandela is finally released. His new life is busy, visiting old friends and supporters, becoming deputy president of the ANC, and traveling with Winnie to the U.S., Europe and North Africa. April 27,1994 Nelson Mandela becomes the first black President of the most developed country in Africa, South Africa. Mandela’s political party becomes the majority in the national assembly, the first black majority ever in South Africa.

In Sweden, he visits his old friend Oliver Tambo. 1993, Mandela and de Klerk are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 1994, Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as president of South Africa, with his daughter Zenani beside him; de Klerk is sworn in as deputy president.

Thanks to the help of people such as Nelson Mandela and President F.W. de Klerk apartheid was abolished in South America after nearly 50 years of legalized racism. For me, people like Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu and President F.W. de Klerk are the real hero’s and leaders in life. There’s nothing more admirable to me then seeing a person stand up to the ridicule of others just to stay behind their beliefs.


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