Nelson Mandela was born in period when there was racial oppression and segregation in South Africa. His life’s mission was to fight for the equal rights of people in South Africa. He spent 27 years in prison for his stand against Apartheid.
Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in the village of Mvezo in South Africa. His father was an advisor of the Thembu Royal family. Mandela was the first member of his family to go to school. From the age of 12 he started to learn the art of leadership. He observed the council meetings and how business was run in his village. Since then he started noticing the segregation in race in his society. When he went to college, the difference was more evident.
When he was 19 years old, he learned about the African National Congress (ANC). He started to attend ANC meetings in 1941. He managed the Youth League in 1944. Mandela’s position started to rise within the ANC. He became the executive of the Transvaal Provincial ANC.
Apartheid began when the National Party became the government. There was racial segregation everywhere. Nelson Mandela was aware of the tension that was developing in his country. In 1950 Mandela became the president of the Youth League and a member of the National Executive Committee of ANC. In 1952 he became the deputy president of the ANC. He started breaking the segregation laws and became the volunteer-in-chief of the defiance campaign. He became recognized in public for his bold acts. Mandela was arrested and was declared as a ‘banned’ person and was not allowed to leave Johannesburg or meet any political people. The ANC was later banned and Mandela understood that he has to take a radical step in stopping all these.
1961 Nelson Mandela became the first leader of a new armed wing of ANC called MK. MK launched a campaign against the government. In 1962, Mandela went abroad illegally. He went to Ethiopia to attend a conference of African nationalist leaders and underwent guerilla training in Algeria. He also went to London. Mandela was arrested shortly after his return and was sentenced for five years for leaving the country and supporting the 1961 workers’ strike. Later, he was charged of treason and violent conspiracy.
Nelson Mandela and seven others were given life imprisonment and the trial gained a lot of international attention. Mandela spent 27 years in jail. For 18 years he was at the Robbin Island prison in a small room with no bed. He had to work in a lime quarry. He received less rations and other privileges than his white inmates and was punished severely for slightest offenses. While in jail, armed only with a pen and his espresso, he wrote and passed on political statements and a draft of his autobiography which was published after several years.
Nelson Mandela became the symbolic leader of the anti-apartheid movement. In 1980 ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ campaign was introduced. The goverenment offered Mandela some political compromises in exchange of his freedom which Mandela rejected. Finally, due to pressure from international leaders the ban of ANC was lifted in 1989 and Mandela was released in 1990. After his freedom Mandela talked with the National Party and other political parties about the end of apartheid and forming a multiracial government.
The first multiracial election was held in 1994 and Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa. His contribution to the anti-apartheid movement will never be forgotten by the world.
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