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Who was Nelson Mandela and how did he influence the end of the Apartheid in South Africa? Nelson Mandela was an incredible man, who through his actions led to the end of the Apartheid in South Africa. The end of the Apartheid was obtained by Mandela’s belief in equality for his people.

To explain how Mandela obtained these achievements, this essay will detail Nelson Mandela’s life, education, the African National Congress and his role in the organisation, his years in prison and how this led to the end of the Apartheid and his election as the first Black African President in South Africa in 1994 Rolihlahla Mandela was born in a village near Umtata in the Transkei on the 18 July 1918. His father was the principal councillor to the Acting Paramount Chief of Thembuland. After his father’s death, Rolihlahla became the Paramount Chief’s ward to be groomed to assume high office.

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However, influenced by the cases that came before the Chief s court, he was determined to become a lawyer. Hearing the elder’s stories of his ancestor’s valour during the wars of resistance in defence of their fatherland, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people. After receiving a primary education at a local mission school, where he was given the name Nelson, he was sent to the Clarkebury Boarding Institute for his Junior Certificate and then to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some reputation.

Nelson then enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare for the Bachelor of Arts Degree where he was elected onto the Students’ Representative Council. He was suspended from college for joining in a protest boycott, along with Oliver Tambo. Nelson was introduced to Walter Sisulu in 1941 and it was Sisulu who arranged for him to do his articles at Lazar Sidelsky’s law firm. After completing his BA through the University of South Africa (Unisa) in 1942, Nelson commenced study for his LLB shortly afterwards (though he left the University of the Witwatersrand without graduating in 1948).

He entered politics in earnest while studying and in 1994, at the age of twenty six, Nelson joined the African National Congress, one of the organisations campaigning for what then seemed the hopeless cause of equal rights for black Africans in South Africa. At the height of the Second World War a small group of young Africans, members of the African National Congress, banded together under the leadership of Anton Lembede. Among them were William Nkomo, Walter Sisulu, Oliver R. Tambo, Ashby P. Mda and Nelson Mandela.

Starting out with 60 members, all of whom were residing around the Witwatersrand, these young people set themselves the difficult task of transforming the ANC into a mass movement, gaining its strength and motivation from the unlettered millions of working people in the towns and countryside, the peasants in the rural areas and the professionals. In 1961, Mandela became leader of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), which he co-founded. He coordinated sabotage campaigns against military and government targets, making plans for a possible guerrilla war if the sabotage failed to end Apartheid.

Wolfie Kadesh, a fellow ANC member explains the bombing campaign led by Mandela: “When we knew that we were going to start on 16 December 1961, to blast the symbolic places of apartheid, like pass offices, native magistrates courts, and things like that … post offices and … the government offices. But we were to do it in such a way that nobody would be hurt, nobody would get killed. ” Mandela said of Wolfie: “His knowledge of warfare and his first hand battle experience were extremely helpful to me. Mandela described the move to armed struggle as a last resort; years of increasing repression and violence from the state convinced him that many years of non-violent protest against apartheid had not and could not achieve any progress. Later, mostly in the 1980s, Umkhonto we Sizwe waged a guerrilla war against the Apartheid regime in which many civilians became casualties. Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, sharply criticising those in his own party who attempted to remove statements supporting this fact from the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested, charged with illegal exit from the country and provocation to strike, and sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour. Whilst serving his sentence, several fellow leaders of the ANC and MK were arrested and brought to trial for plotting to overthrow the government by violence, and Nelson was brought from prison to face the new charges. Of those tried, eight, including Nelson were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. Since he considered the prosecution a trial of the aspirations of the African people, Mandela decided to conduct his own defence.

He applied for the recusal of the magistrate, on the ground that in such a prosecution a judiciary controlled entirely by whites was an interested party and therefore could not be impartial, and on the ground that he owed no duty to obey the laws of a white parliament, in which he was not represented. In his statement from the dock in the Rivonia Trial ends with these words: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

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. ” Nelson began his sentence in the notorious Robben Island Prison camp where prisoners, where forced into a brutal regime of hard labour. He was to remain on the island for the next eighteen years. Incarceration failed to wear away Nelson’s influence within South Africa, and his imprisonment became a symbol of the evil of the apartheid while acting as a rallying point for the campaign against the system both inside and outside South Africa.

During his time in prison, Nelson turned down numerous offers of freedom in return for accepting political compromises that fell short of fully dismantling the system of apartheid. He did, however, seek to find a political route forward, initiating a dialogue with the government in 1985 which led to ‘talks about talks’. Nelson maintained that negotiations could only be undertaken by the full ANC leadership. On 11 February 1990, after 27 years in prison, Nelson was released from prison. Upon his release, Nelson strove to complete the work he had begun almost five decades before.

In1991 he was elected President of the ANC at the first national conference to be held in South Africa since the party was banned in 1960. In 1993, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa. On 27 April 1994, South Africa witnessed the official end of apartheid when the ANC won a 62. 65% majority in the national elections. Mandela was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 as, the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist government.

During his time in office, President Mandela oversaw the transition from minority rule, gaining international respect for his pursuit of national reconciliation. “Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the people of South Africa has been immeasurable and I look forward to helping with his work all over the country, I feel blessed to be able to visit South Africa, especially Soweto. Events that happened there are so much a part of our history and it will be an honour for my son to rest in this special place: the birthplace of the South African struggle for democracy. – Afeni Shakur Nelson Mandela’s actions which led to the end of the Apartheid in South Africa were indescribable. Nelson Mandela obtained these achievements through Nelson’s extensive education, through his role in the African National Congress and through serving twenty seven years of goal sentence. All these factors and Nelson’s strong belief for equality for his people led to the end of the Apartheid and Nelson being elected as the first Black African President. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, African National Congress, 15. . 2010, http://www. anc. org. za/people/mandela. html [ 2 ]. Pollard, M, 1995, 100 Greatest Men, Dragon’s World, Great Britain. [ 3 ]. Biography, Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela Foundation, 15. 6. 2010, http://www. nelsonmandela. org/index. php/memory/views/biography/ [ 4 ]. Nelson Mandela, Wikipedia, viewed 24th June 2010http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela#Anti-apartheid_activities [ 5 ]. Nelson Mandela Biography, viewed 24th June 2010, http://www. moibrahimfoundation. org/en/media/get/20091003_nelson-mandela-biography. pdf

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