Nelson Mandela was a South African political and human rights activist. In this blog post, find out who Nelson Mandela was, what he fought against, and why the Nelson Mandela day is celebrated.
When Nelson Mandela was born, South Africa was ruled by an all-white government. This government exploited the blacks, who were the ethnic people of South Africa, to maximize their profits from the gold and diamond mining business in the country. They forced the blacks, who constituted 90% of the population, to live in just 7.5% of the land. The government also forbade the Blacks from purchasing land from the White people. So, the Black people, who did not own farms anymore, were forced to work as agricultural laborers in the farms owned by the white people. Some of them moved to cities to work in the mines. However, the government gave white people preference for skilled jobs in mining industries. So, the Black people were forced to work for pennies in their own country, which was rich in gold and diamond. But the Blacks couldn’t do anything against the injustice committed against them because they didn’t even have the right to vote.
So, in 1912, the African National Congress was formed. The African National Congress is a party that petitioned the government and politely requested it to change its policies. However, it never saw any success in its methods.
The Bauers and the Britishers are the two major groups of white people in South Africa. Bauers were primarily Dutch, who were made to settle in South Africa by the Dutch East India company in the seventeenth century. The Britishers came to South Africa in the nineteenth century and settled there to work in the gold and diamond mines.
Until 1948, South Africa was ruled by the United Party, which made policies favorable to the Britishers. In 1948, the National Party came to power. The National Party introduced the Apartheid policy, which made everything favorable to Afrikaners, the descendants of Bauers. But the Apartheid policy made the lives of Black people even more miserable. For instance, the Black people were limited to live in the areas designated for them. If they entered an area designated as White South Africa, they were arrested. Moreover, all the facilities, like hospitals, trains, ambulances, etc., were segregated for the whites and the blacks. Facilities meant for the blacks, for example, hospitals, were always overcrowded, understaffed, and offered lower quality services. On the other hand, facilities meant for the whites were better maintained and staffed with better quality employees.
Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1943. Do you want to read the biographies of Nelson Mandela and other famous people who brought a change to this world? You can do so by visiting this website. Initially, Mandela’s motive when he joined the African National Congress was to fight against the racism which he faced in his law college. However, after serving in the party for a few years, he realized that the party’s policy of petitioning and politely requesting the government was useless. So, he and a few other people created the African National Congress Youth League in 1944. Heeding the advice of its youth league, the African National Congress adopted more aggressive methods like peaceful protests and non-compliance against the government. Moreover, Nelson Mandela also proposed and implemented the cell structure for the African National Congress. This divided the big party into numerous little cells, whose members only knew the identity of other members in the same cell. So, if a member was caught, only the identity of members in the same cell would be compromised. Thus, even if the party was banned, members could still continue to work for the party without getting caught.
Nelson Mandela and the Youth League’s ideas made the African National Congress wildly popular among the millions of oppressed black miners and agricultural laborers. As a result, the support for the party surged. But when protests and revolts were still not effective, Nelson Mandela co-founded the Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed faction of the ANC. This group planned to bomb government facilities like army barracks and power stations without any loss of lives.
In 1964, South African police found evidence linking Nelson Mandela with the bombings. So, Nelson Mandela and ten others were awarded life sentences.
Nelson Mandela suffered a lot in prison for the initial few years. After a few years, the conditions in prison improved. Meanwhile, support for Nelson Mandela started to grow internationally when the world came to know about the atrocities committed against the Blacks in South Africa. So, many countries started imposing trade bans on South Africa. Therefore, the economy of South Africa was affected. Moreover, support for Mandela increased within the country. So, people started protesting against the Apartheid government. Therefore, the South African government, which wanted a quick solution, agreed to release Nelson Mandela if he promised to renounce violence completely. But more than his own freedom, Nelson Mandela wanted to make the lives of the black South Africans better. So, he refused the conditional release and insisted that violence will continue until the blacks get the right to vote. So, in 1990, Nelson Mandela was released unconditionally by the new president of South Africa. In 1993, Nelson Mandela and the then president of South Africa agreed to end the Apartheid system and set up a black majority government in South Africa, where the blacks would have the right to vote. Therefore, they were awarded the Nobel peace prize for bringing a peaceful end to the Apartheid system. One year later, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of democratic South Africa.
After becoming the president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela worked hard to improve the lives of black people while at the same time trying to create a friendship between the black and white people. He only served one term as the president of South Africa. Then, he resigned from his position and set up a charity called the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Through it, he tried to eliminate illiteracy by building schools and combat AIDS by building clinics.
Thus, Nelson Mandela dedicated almost his entire life to fighting against the injustice committed against his people. So, to honor his lifetime work, the United Nations announced July 18th, the day when Nelson Mandela was born, as Nelson Mandela day. Remembering the 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent fighting for his people, the UN urges people to spend 67 minutes on this day helping those in need. So, this year, on July 18th, regardless of how busy you are, dedicate at least 67 minutes helping those in need. It is our duty to honor the person who fought for the betterment of our brethren.