Biography of Nelson Mandela

Topics: Nelson Mandela, South Africa, African National Congress Pages: 6 (2239 words) Published: March 7, 2011
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is recognized for his leadership as a peacemaker and for distinctive aspects of his peacemaking practices all throughout the world. He was the leader of one of the most incredible political transitions in human history. Mandela is known as one of the great moral and political leaders of our times; an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa, won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, he explains the tragedies and triumphs he has seen throughout his life. In the book, you get a glimpse of his life and how he became one of the greatest civil rights leaders in human history. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is a South African black Nationalist and statesman whose 27 year imprisonment, from 1962–1990, and later his presidency from 1994-1999, symbolized the aspirations of South Africa's black majority. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and leader of the African National Congress. His autobiography states that he was the son of Chief Henry Mandela. Instead of following his father’s suit, Nelson Mandela abandoned his claim to the chieftainship and become a lawyer. He attended the University College of Fort Hare and studied law at the University of Witwatersrand. He later passed the bar exam to become a lawyer and in 1952 opened a law firm with Oliver Tambo. In 1944, Mandela joined the Congress (ANC), a black-liberation group, and five years later, he became one of its leaders. He helped to revitalize the organization and opposed the apartheid policies of the ruling National Party. He along with other young individuals began the difficult task of transforming the ANC into a mass movement, gaining its strength and motivation from the millions of working individuals in the towns and countryside; the peasants in the rural areas and the professionals. Mandela impressed his peers and became an important leader within his organization due to his disciplined work and consistent effort. He was also elected to the Secretary of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in 1947. This group advocated nonviolent weapons such as boycott, strike, civil disobedience and non-cooperation as their policy. In policy documents of which Mandela was an important co-author, the ANCYL paid special attention to the redistribution of the land, trade union rights, education and culture. The ANCYL also aimed for free and necessary education for all children, as well as mass education for adults. When the ANC launched its Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws in 1952, Mandela was elected National Volunteer-in-Chief, another important leadership role. The campaign was thought to be a mass civil disobedience campaign but ended up involving increasingly more ordinary people, resulting in mass defiance. Mandela traveled the country organizing resistance to discriminatory legislation. Charged and brought to trial for his role in the campaign, the court found that Mandela had consistently advised his followers to adopt a peaceful course of action and to avoid all violence. Mandela went on trial for treason in 1956–61 but was found not guilty. After the massacre of unarmed Africans by police forces at Sharpeville in 1960 and later the banning of the ANC, Mandela abandoned his nonviolent stance and began advocating acts of sabotage against the South African regime. In 1962, he was jailed and sentenced to five years in prison. In 1963 the imprisoned Mandela and several other men were tried for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy. This trial was called the Rivonia Trial. The Rivonia Trial was a famous trial named after a fashionable suburb of Johannesburg, where raiding police had discovered a large supply of arms and equipment at the headquarters of the ANC’s military wing. Mandela had been a founder of the organization and admitted that some of the charges made against him were true....

Cited: Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela : With Connections (HRW library). New York: Holt Rinehart &Amp; Winston, 1995.
"Biography of Nelson Mandela." Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. 27 Feb. 2007. 7 May 2007 .

Liberfield, David. "Nelson Mandela as a Peacemaker." Presented At the ISA Convention. Mar. 2002. 11 May 2007 .
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