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– The Post Incarceration Years Essay, Research Paper

Ever since the policy of apartheid was adopted by the white minority-led government of South Africa in 1948, people there and the world over have been crusading to end it. They felt that required segregation, relying on a classification system based solely on race and ethnicity, should not be sanctioned by any government, let alone forced upon people by one. A particular group of objectors in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), founded in 1960 and declared illegal by the government, employed violence in an attempt to gain human rights for black South Africans. The mastermind behind this vast organization was a courageous man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who ended up serving twenty-seven years in prison for his belief that violence could be fought and beaten only with reciprocal violence, and for his decision to act on that belief. Finally, he was released from captivity in February of 1990 by President De Klerk, with whom he would share the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Upon his release, Mandela continued to strive for black equality. In the first multi-racial election, held in 1994, Nelson Mandela was voted the first black President of a democratic South Africa. Since his inauguration, he has fulfilled many of the dreams that he embodies for his people. Mandela has made a gigantic impact on the lives of many of his fellow South Africans because of his actions to alleviate the grimy residue of apartheid.

One of Mandela’s first steps after he entered the office of President was to reform the South African police force. He had experienced first-hand the brutality and blatant corruption of that group under apartheid, and he was well aware that unless the law enforcement agents could be trusted and would be obeyed – there would be no peace. In the past, the main task of the police had been to uphold and defend the laws of apartheid, and to use violence against those who would not conform to regulations. Now that apartheid was no longer in existence, however, the scope of the police force’s job was vastly altered. Instead of protecting outright discrimination and complete segregation, they were to enforce the cessation of discrimination and the termination of segregation. Mandela’s first real move was to appoint a new police commissioner. For this extremely significant post, he chose Major General George Fivaz, a white reformer anxious to steer the force away from their obsolete roles. Mandela then placed four deputy commissioners under General Fivaz, one black, one ‘colored’, one Indian, and one white. The decision to create four positions was surely a wise one and would definitely help the police force to control all of the citizens of South Africa. So far, Fivaz was responsible for the complete reconstruction of the police force into ten subdivisions, one national force and one semi-independent force for each of South Africa’s nine provinces. In these ways, Nelson Mandela reformed the South African police, allowing them the power to help all of the victims of apartheid to rebuild their lives. This reformation could also be seen as an arena for both his compatriots and foreigners to view Mandela in action and a means for him to prove himself a man worthy of his title.

Nelson Mandela continued to prove himself to the world and his countrymen on his journey to discover new methods of improving the lives of black South Africans. Many of his innovations were incorporated into a plan entitled The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The RDP consisted of a committee, which was allocated five percent of the national budget annually from each separate department of South Africa’s government. After the funds were placed in the FDP pot, those departments were allowed to apply for their share of the money. However, unless they proved to the committee that the funds would be utilized to improve the situations of the poverty-stricken of the nation, their applications would be denied. Some of the projects whole-heartedly passed by the RDP committee include: bringing clean water, electricity, and adequate medical facilities to the impoverished citizens in rural areas, providing sufficient housing for those in cities and townships such as Johannesburg and Soweto, and many other social and economic programs that addressed problems like: violence, unemployment, inadequate education, lack of democracy and a failing economy. This ingenuous program, made effective in 1994, is one of the great things to come out of Mandela’s leadership as of yet.

Perhaps Nelson Mandela’s most substantial efforts toward healing the scars left on the hearts of South Africans by apartheid was The Truth and Reconciliation Committee. This group, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was essential for improving the emotional health of the nation, which Nelson Mandela must have realized when he thought of the idea. This seventeen-member multi-racial committee was founded to investigate actions taken by the white-led government against the black people of South Africa under apartheid rule. Jakes Gerwell, Mandela’s Chief of Staff, gave this comment on the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, “The appointment of the commissioners marks an important stage in this historic process of coming to an understanding of our past.” Definitely, that is true, and the fact that Nelson Mandela comprehended that identifying the hidden truths behind apartheid, behind all those years of segregation, was something that all South Africans, most especially blacks, were groping to discover. His true insight, in this instance as well as in every situation, reveals to the world how truly necessary Nelson Mandela is to South Africa.

Since Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994, he has transformed the nation and the lives of most of its citizens most emphatically for the better. His obviously natural leadership skills and innate courage and wisdom will allow South Africa to reap much progress from him, hopefully even quicker that he attempts to sow these seeds himself. The citizens of South Africa have greatly benefited from his benevolent rule, and will continue to do so, as long as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela remains the great, dedicated man he is today.



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