Nelson Mandela Essay, Research Paper
Mandela was born on July 18,1918, in Mvezo, a small village south of Umtata, the capital of
Transkei, a South African province. His father, Henry Gadla Mandela was a Xhosa (South African tribe) chief. His Mother, a woman of dignity and stature, was named Nonqaphi. Mandela spent most of his childhood playing games with other children. Several years after his birth, his father suddenly died. One of his fathers’s friends the Thembu regent (chief of the Thembu tribe, part of the Xhosa nation) took him in and treated him as his own son. The regent immediately sent Mandela off to school to get an education. Since all of the teachers in the area were English, Mandela was given an English name. He was named Nelson. Soon he was ready for college.
The first college Mandela attended was a government school called Clarkebury. At Clarkebury he began studying law.Next he attended Healdtown, which, at the time, was the largest college for blacks south of the Equator. After that he went to Fort Hare University. Fort Hare only had about 150 people and was considered an elite school. However, the school was very strict. Mandela was suspended for one year due to a boycott in which the entire school boycotted the student council elections. Twenty people voted, though, so the seven elected officials (including Mandela) resigned. He was suspended for one year but would be allowed to return the following year. He returned home to be met by a very angry regent who decided that Mandela should be married. Then he made a crucial decision: he would run away to Johannesburg.
When Nelson first arrived in Johannesburg, he got a job as a policeman. Soon the regent found out were he was, so he decided to change jobs. The next job he got was a lawyer. He soon met other black lawyers. Mandela, along with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, formed the first all-black law partnership in South Africa. In 1942, Mandela joined the ANC (African National Congress) and soon began organizing protests and demonstrations against apartheid. He rapidly rose through the ranks of the ANC. In 1956, he and 156 other ANC members were indicted on charges of treason. After a five year trial, all were found not guilty. In 1960, people massacred protesters at Sharpeville and Langa. Mandela finally realized that nonviolent protests would not work. He turned to sabotage. He formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) as the military wing of the ANC. He then went into hiding because he knew that he would be arrested unless the police couldn’t find him. He continued to organize attacks by Umkhonto and strikes by civilians. He was soon the most wanted man in South Africa.
He ran from the police for many years. He became known as the “Black Pimpernel” because he was never captured. Finally, in 1962, he was captured in a car outside Johannesburg. He was convicted of illegally leaving the country, civil disobedience, and a couple other charges. He was sentenced to five years. Shortly after his conviction, charges of sabotage, treason, and conspiring to overthrow the government were brought against him. He was found guilty again, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He served most of his years at a labor camp on Robben Island. He was then moved to Pollsmoor Prison in Pretoria.
In the 1980s, South Africa came under heavy fire for apartheid. On February 11, 1990, Mandela was released due to international pressure.
Apartheid was South Africa’s system of racial segregation. Apartheid, in Afrikaans, means seperateness. Apartheid forced black people to live in areas that were reserved for blacks. Blacks could not live in areas that were reserved for whites. The blacks were forced to live in the worst areas of land and thousands were often packed into small townships. Blacks also had to have separate jobs, schools, and buses. They used separate restrooms. Blacks also had to carry passes everywhere they went and could be stopped at any time by a policeman that wanted to check their pass. Soon, many people began to speak out against apartheid. Many years of civil disobedience by blacks went by. The all-white government simply ignored their protests. Eventually, the blacks turned to violence. Finally, in 1990, apartheid was abolished. In 1994, the first free elections were held. Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress was elected president of South Africa. A new constitution was adopted, giving equal rights to all people. After 50 years of apartheid, there was finally peace in South Africa.