RACISM - Nelson Mandela


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born 18. July 1918 in a village in South Africa called Mvezo. The name Rolihlahla means “the troublemaker”. His father was a chief of the village they lived in, and he had four wives. When Nelson Mandela was seven years old he started school. He was given the name Nelson here, because the whites refused to use their African names. Nelson Mandela’s father died when Nelson was nine years old. His mother decided to send Nelson to another family, where he lived until he was 23 years old. While he lived with the family he went to different schools for blacks. But when he was 23 years old, the family wanted him to marry a girl they had found for him. He, however, did not want to marry the girl, so he decided to run away to Johannesburg. In Johannesburg he got a job at a law firm, while he studied law. In 1942 he became a lawyer, and the year after, he became a member of ANC, which was a political party, that fought for racial equality in South Africa. Nelson Mandela became one of the leaders of ANC. He asked people to demonstrate against racism and the white government and thousands of people went to demonstrate on the streets.

In 1946 he met his first wife, and they got married the same year. They had two children together, but they got divorced in 1958.

In 1952, when Nelson Mandela was 34 years old, he and his friend, Oliver Tambo, opened their own law firm. They were the only blacks in South Africa who had their own law firm, so they were busy.

In 1958 Nelson Mandela was married to his second wife Nomzamo Winnifred Madikizela, called Winni, and they had 4 children together. They got divorced, though, in 1996.

In 1961, Nelson Mandela and the ANC changed strategy. He didn’t think that peaceful demonstrations were enough to fight the white government, so the ANC began to build an army that fought apartheid with weapons instead. They intended to do material damage, though, not personal damage.

Shortly after this, the leaders of the ANC decided that Nelson Mandela should hide from the government, who wanted to arrest him. Nelson Mandela traveled around in Africa in 1962. He went back to South Africa in August, but the police caught him and he was arrested for illegal departure of the country. The year after, though, Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters were charged for sabotage. The trial lasted for a year, and during the trial Nelson Mandela and the other freedom fighters feared that they would be doomed to death. But luckily, in 1964, they were sent to prison for life.

Nelson Mandela and the other freedom fighters were sent to the prison on Robben Island. The prison was opened in 1961 as a prison for the white government’s opponents.

While Nelson Mandela was in prison, the struggle for freedom continued outside of Robben Island. People still thought of Nelson Mandela as their leader, and they wanted him out of prison. And it wasn’t just people in South Africa and Africa that wanted Nelson Mandela to be set free. In Europe, people wanted the same thing, and no country wanted to support the apartheid government anymore. Nelson Mandela and the president of South Africa, P. W. Botha had several talks about setting Nelson Mandela free, but no deals were made. When President Botha suffered a stroke, he was replaced by Frederik Willem de Klerk, and de Klerk sat Nelson Mandela free.

Nelson Mandela was sat free in February 1990. At that time he had been in prison for 27 years.

In July 1991 Nelson Mandela was elected as the ANC’s president. Nelson Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk continued to negotiate toward the abolishment of apartheid and the acquisition of democracy.

In 1993, Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk received the Nobel Prize for Peace.  In 1994, all people in South Africa could vote, which was the first time in the blacks’ lives. The ANC got 60 % of the votes at the election, and Nelson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa. He didn’t hate the whites, though. He said that everybody had to forgive each other and help each other to build up a new country. Nelson Mandela was president until the election in 1999. 

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