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Nelson Mandela

By riverdale06 Apr 10, 2006 1400 Words
Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Transkei, South Africa. He was educated at the University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942. In 1944, he joined the African National Congress (ANC) and became one of the many to engage in the resistance against Apartheid and the unjust white supremacy. In 1952, he earned the role of ANC deputy national president, and advocated nonviolent procedures towards Apartheid. From 1956 to 1961, he was arrested by the police and went on trial for treason, and fortunately was acquitted in 1961. After his release, he learned of several peaceful demonstrators being massacred, and so, he considered the use of guerrilla warfare and other violent tactics on the government. He was arrested once again on June 12, 1964 for plotting to overthrow the government by violence. He and seven others were sentenced to life imprisonment. During his time in prison, he became a symbol of resistance and gave his people strength. He stuck to his cause and constantly refused to compromise to obtain his freedom. Fortunately in 1990, President de Klerk, a president committed to change, was elected and immediately released Mandela. Nelson Mandela soon became the president of the ANC and was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1993. "After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier" (Frängsmyr 1). This shows how even decades after Mandela had struggled for human rights, he did not give up. He proved to the people that his mind did not change and his goals still remained after many years in the cell walls. So, in South Africa's first multiracial elections in 1994, he was elected president of South Africa and served until 1999.

Nelson Mandela's ambition to change the horrible conditions of the people of South Africa had first come from his childhood. At that time, he learned about how wonderful and peaceful life was before the arrival of the Caucasians. Mandela's elders used to say, "Then our people lived peacefully, under the democratic rule…we occupied the land, the forests, the rivers…we set up and operated our own government…then the country was ours" (Benson 16). After hearing his elders constantly reflect on their wonderful past with their peaceful country, Mandela must have known that he never had known what it was like to live that way and also that his country would never be able to experience that kind of lifestyle, unless somebody stood up to the white supremacy. Mandela brought his yearning of a new South Africa to his treason trials right before his life sentence. He read to the people, "Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing…want to live where they obtain work…want to own land…be part of the general population…live with their children…we want equal political rights" (Benson 158). Mandela said all of this to whites and blacks at his trial so he would be able to have all people see how horribly his people were being treated. He had learned of a great life from his elders, and so he needed it to become a reality once again. Geoff Tabbner, a radical supporter of Nelson Mandela, recognized his dream and also recognized the changes needed for society. Geoff said, "South Africa has many problems. The nation has 50 percent unemployment and 90 percent of those jobless people are blacks and Asians. That's a reflection of South Africa's depressed economy" (Carlson 4). By dictating to the people, Nelson Mandela united many into learning how poorly the country was because of the whites and allowed them to have a common goal: to achieve a greater South Africa. This is a great contribution to society because it enabled people to know that if they worked together towards one ambition, then anything would be impossible.

Indeed, Mandela was right about this because soon enough, many people were giving up their lives and their freedom towards the cause for liberty and peace. The prisons began to overflow and riots continued to occur all over the country. Many citizens said, "Open the jail doors, for we want to enter, we are volunteers" (Benson 48). As crazy as it sounds to go to jail voluntarily, the people were going to jail for the love of their country and for their love for Mandela. This shows how much he was influential among the people. They adored and worshiped him so much that they were willing to put their lives on the line every day to support their cause. Even Nelson Mandela himself went to prison during his plots to overthrow the government. "‘The sentence in the case of all the accused will be one of life imprisonment.' … Mandela gave the ANC thumbs-up before descending to the cells for the last time" (Benson 163). This displays that Mandela was one of the many to go happily into the prison cells, even though he would be there for 27 years. Although he was offered many times to be freed, but only under certain conditions, Mandela hesitated time and time again. He would not give in; he would not give up, even in prison. "In 1961, Mandela had sent a message to his people from underground: ‘Only through hardship and sacrifice can freedom be won. The struggle is my life…until the end of my days'" (ANC 2). When Nelson Mandela said this, he showed that sometimes to get what you want, you will sometimes have to sacrifice to achieve a greater outcome. This lesson is a great contribution to society.

One of these greater outcomes was the unification of all kinds of people. Due to the hard and demanding work for a better South Africa, the people there were getting widespread spread from all over the world. "The discipline and humor of the volunteers had won admiration abroad and the United Nations set up a commission to inquire into Apartheid…a fresh encouragement to the ANC and its allies" (Benson 50). It was the fact that many people were voluntarily going to prison which caught the eyes of many international groups and countries. The United Nations was the first group to show an expression of disapproval towards Apartheid, and so, the international awareness of it spread like wildfire. Nelson Mandela was also the reason for the unification of a group who had been regarded much less than men for many years: women. "Women had played an outstanding role in fighting the cause of all black people; they were supposed to build the nation, yet they were in ‘the most hopeless situation to try and bring up children in a society riddled with racial hatred'" (Benson 188). This shows that while women were fighting everyday for the liberty of their country, they could also have a child to raise at the very same time. The strength that women had was outrageous and contributed a lot to in the conflict against the whites. Nelson Mandela's contributed to society by using his ability to unite all kinds of people, nationally and internationally, to create a group which could conquer any task.

Throughout Nelson Mandela's fight for freedom against Apartheid, he has become a very influential figure and has done many positive things for the better of humanity. It was because of his unification, his sacrifice, and his one goal which allowed him to win a war in which the odds were against him. Due to his valiant efforts, he has become the president of a "united, democratic, nonracial and nonsexist South Africa, to lead the country out of the valley of darkness" (Miami Herald 1). Mandela has taught society whenever the unjust and irrational are harming you and your people, you must stand up because that is the only way that things are going to change for the better. It is this lesson that has given him success in the area of human rights and has truly allowed him to become a hero to remember. Like Nelson Mandela, there are many heroes out there who contributed to society in one way or another. They are the people whose aspirations become reality for the better of humanity. no bibliography

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