Apartheid and Mandela

Topics: Nelson Mandela, South Africa, African National Congress Pages: 5 (1723 words) Published: April 6, 2006
The Apartheid system implemented by the National Party in 1948 in South Africa idealised white supremacy. It consisted of numerous laws that segregated and exploited Africans, Asians and Coloured. These racial groups were opposed to such discrimination and the African National Congress (ANC) was the anti-apartheid movement that fought towards liberation of the African's. The ANC strove for a democratic society with equal human and political rights. Nelson Mandela was the most significant figure in achieving opposition of apartheid. This is evident in that he was able to immensely increase support against apartheid as well as inflict violent resistance and threats on the government. By maintaining his hope and giving continuous encouragement to the ANC whilst imprisoned, Mandela was successful in opposing and terminating the apartheid system.

Preceding the National Party's introduction of the system of apartheid, Mandela helped form the ANC Youth League in 1944 which aimed to transform the ANC from using tactics such as petitions and deputations to a more non-cooperation mass political movement. This change was then implemented by the ANC in 1949 as their ‘program of action' as a result of the harsh discriminative laws against the African's. The program advocated the use of boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience in peaceful protests against apartheid. The ‘program of action' called for mass resistance to Afrikaner authority. The transformation instigated by Mandela was significant as it set off the campaigns to be executed in opposition of apartheid.

In May 1950, Mandela, the ANC and other organizations organized a strike against the racial policies of the government. The strike lead to unnecessary shootings by the police. This event caused deep resentment amongst the African's. Consequently, the ANC organized a national day of protest on June 26th, 1950. In 1952 the ANC performed mass action in defiance of apartheid laws. Mandela played a significant role in the arrangement of volunteers. He traveled around the country organizing resistance to discriminatory legislation and was successful in gaining support in opposition to apartheid and increasing the awareness of the unjust policy of apartheid. The defiance campaign involved the volunteers taking part in peaceful black protests against the apartheid system and the disobedience of apartheid laws. This event did not result in any positive changes to the apartheid laws for the African race; however Mandela's role in gathering volunteers around the country was significant as he was able to increase support through ANC membership which rose from 7,000 to more than 100,000. The increased support gave encouragement and hope for the freedom of the African race.

In March 1960, more peaceful protests occurred involving a campaign against the pass laws. Anti-apartheid activists surrounded police stations protesting and challenging the police to arrest them. The campaign turned violent as the police fired at the activists, killing 69 people and wounding 180. Following the ‘Sharpeville massacre', the ANC was banned and apartheid laws were made harsher. Racial discrimination was stronger and the government was still unresponsive to end apartheid; however the Sharpeville massacre was significant as it was the catalyst for the changing tactics and strategies Mandela helped introduce and the ANC adopted for the future. Mandela said "it would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force ". In 1961, the ANC embarked on a new strategy and policy: armed resistance. Mandela's increased frustration with the government's lack of responsiveness to end apartheid led to the formation of a military wing of the ANC: "we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defense of our people, our future and our freedom ". Mandela was instrumental in the formation...

Bibliography: • Mandela, N. 1990. The Struggle is my life, London: Canon Collins House.
• Frost, B. 1998. Struggling to Forgive; Nelson Mandela and South Africa 's search for Reconciliation, London: Harper Collins Publishers.
• Roberts, M. 2001. South Africa 1948-1994: the rise and fall of apartheid, England: Longman.
• Ross, R. 1999. A concise History of South Africa, London: Cambridge University Press.
• Nelson Mandela Hero File [Internet]. Available from: http://www.moreorless.au.com/heroes/mandela.html Accessed 18 March 2006.
• Nelson Mandela [Internet]. Available from: http://www.africawithin.com/mandela/mandela_bio.htm Accessed 18 March 2006.
• South Africa, Wikipedia [Internet] Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa Accessed 21 March 2006
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