Nelson Mandela: On June 12, 1964, the South African establishment handed down a life sentence to the anti-apartheid leader and global human rights activist Nelson Mandela for his political activism. He spent 27 years in prison before he was released, during which time he became the anti-apartheid movement's face.
You can learn more about Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa who opposed apartheid and became the nation's first black president.
Nelson Mandela's life story: Nelson Mandela was born in the village of Mvezo in Cape Province on July 18, 1918, to a royal family from the Thembu tribe. The Xhosa language was spoken by the tribe.
He was born as Rolihlahla. Mandela was adopted by another high-ranking tribe member when he was nine years old, preparing him for leadership in the tribe.
When Mandela attended the local missionary school, he became the first member of his family to receive a formal education. As was customary at the time, he was given the English name "Nelson" at the school.
He attended a different missionary school for his secondary education. He was going to be significantly influenced by the Christian faith.
Mandela entered the prestigious University of Fort Hare in 1939. At the time, it was the only institution of higher education for black African students that was modelled after the West.
However, he was kicked out for protesting the institute's policies, so he never finished his education. When Mandela got back to his house, he found out that his marriage had been planned. He fled to Johannesburg and began working as a night watchman to get away from this.
He also worked as a law clerk and studied for his bachelor's degree via correspondence.
Mandela made friends with a lot of black and white activists at the University of Witwatersrand, where he was enrolled to study law.
In 1944, he became a member of the African National Congress (ANC). Along with other leaders like Oliver Tambo, he also established its youth wing, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).
The National Party won power in South Africa in the 1948 elections and implemented strict segregation policies. Basic rights were denied to non-whites, who were subjected to severe restrictions. Even the government barred them from entering.
Through non-violent means, the ANC began its campaign for full citizenship for all South Africans.
In support of equal rights, Mandela traveled across the country. In 1952, he was in charge of the ANC's Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws. Together with Tambo, he also established the nation's first black law firm to represent black people adversely affected by unfair segregation laws.
Mandela was apprehended in 1956. After the trial, he was given his freedom in 1961, but the situation was getting worse.
In 1959, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAN) was established to support armed resistance against apartheid.
In Sharpeville, in 1960, a group of peaceful black protesters were shot by police. There were 69 deaths. In various regions of the nation, riots broke out. The government outlawed both the ANC and the PAC. Also during this time, Mandela began a more radical strategy after giving up peaceful resistance.
He and his colleagues established the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961. This was the ANC's armed wing.
Under Mandela's direction, the MK launched a rebellion against the government through sabotage.
In January 1962, despite being prohibited from traveling abroad, he met Tambo, an exile in London. In Algeria, he also received guerrilla training.
He was detained when he returned to South Africa in August 1962. He received a five-year prison term. After that, he was taken to the trial, which was known as the "Rivonia Trial." Mandela delivered his well-known three-hour speech, now known as the "I Am Prepared to Die" speech, from the dock of the defendant in the courtroom. Numerous international organizations demanded the release of Mandela and his associates after the trial. However, he was given a life sentence.
He was imprisoned for the first 18 years at the Robben Island Prison, where he endured terrible conditions. He spent his days working hard in a lime quarry and living in a small cell with no bedding or plumbing. Additionally, he received fewer meals than other white prisoners. For the smallest of "offenses," he and his associates also received severe punishments.
Mandela became the anti-apartheid movement's face despite his imprisonment.
By isolating the South African government, the international community also exerted pressure on them.
The ban on the ANC was lifted in 1989 by then-President F.W. de Klerk of South Africa, who also announced the establishment of a non-racist nation.
Nelson Mandela's legacy: In February 1990, after 27 years in prison, he was released.
In 1993, Mandela and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In April 1994, the country held its first fully democratic elections, and Nelson Mandela became the nation's first black president. He served as president until 1999, when he left politics.
On December 5, 2013, at the age of 95, he passed away from a lung infection.
Throughout his lifetime, he had been recognized with numerous honors and awards from various nations and organizations. In 1990, India presented him with the Bharat Ratna.
The following are some frequently asked questions regarding Nelson Mandela:
The world praised Nelson Mandela as a symbol of reconciliation. He was an expert at negotiating and communicating with people from different groups, which resulted in his release, the end of apartheid, and the beginning of democracy in South Africa.
What impact did Nelson Mandela's actions have?
In a nation that was racially divided, Nelson Mandela used the country's love of rugby to unite blacks and whites. Even in his darkest hours, he never lost his dignity or his sense of humor, and he became a shining example of hope.