Nelson Mandela


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is judged to be one of the greatest political
leaders of modern times. Among his many accomplishments are the 1993 Nobel
Peace Prize for his dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South
Africa and establishing democracy there and becoming the president of South
Africa in 1994 following their first multiracial elections.
Nelson was born as the foster son of a Thembu chief in Umtata (now the
province of Eastern Cape) and raised in a traditional tribal culture within the
grips of apartheid, a powerful system of black oppression that existed in South
Africa. After years as a poor student and law clerk in Johannesburg, he
assumed an important role in the African National Congress (ANC), a civil rights
group. He also helped form the ANC Youth League in the 1950\'s. He was accused
of treason in 1956 but was acquitted in 1961.
From 1960-1962 Mandela led the NAC\'s para military wing known as
Umkhonto we Sizwe which translate to "Spear of the Nation." He was arrested in
August of 1962, sentenced to five years in prison and while incarcerated was
again convicted of sabotage and treason and was sentenced to life imprisonment
in june, 1964 at the famous Rivonia Trial. During his twenty-seven years in
prison, Nelson Mandela became a symbol of resistance to the white-dominated
country of South Africa throughout the world. After complex negotiation,
Mandela was finally released from prison by President F.W. deKlerk in February,
1990, after lifting the long ban on the ANC.
Mandela\'s release from prison marked the beginning of the end of
apartheid in South Africa when he once again became the head of the ANC. He
began the process to from a new constitution in South Africa which would allow
political power to the black majority. Finally in 1991 the South African
government repealed the laws that had upheld apartheid. In May, 1994 Nelson
Mandela became South Africa\'s first black president after the country\'s first
multiracial elections were held. His goal was to provide for economic and
social growth for the black majority that had been oppressed for so long by the
system of apartheid.
Nelson Mandela continues to inspire people everywhere. He is viewed as
a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. He stands for
the triumph of dignity and hope over despair and hatred and of love over
persecution and hatred. At age seventy-eight he still remains a major political
figure in South Africa where he enjoys his twenty-one grandchildren and three
great-grandchildren.

Category: Social Issues