Mandela and the History of Apartheid in South Africa

1305 words | 5 page(s)

Nelson Mandela lived a life that was courageous and powerful, leading the people of South Africa to freedom from racial segregation and oppression, spending a near lifetime in prison to ensure that democracy could be realized in a country where segregation had become the norm for years. Mandela refused to compromise on his morals, becoming a well-respected leader not just nationally, but internationally helping South Africa to become what it is today.

South Africa for many years maintained a system of separation, commonly referred to as apartheid that was enforced in South Africa by the National Party government that ruled in the country from the period of time from the mid-1940s through mid-1990s (Crompton, 2009; Limb, 2008). During this time people in South Africa that were black had limited rights; Mandela was a leading agent in the fight against apartheid in South Africa during his lifetime, as were many people in South Africa throughout the 1940s through 1990s (Limb, 2008; Crompton, 2009).

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Mandela and the History of Apartheid in South Africa".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

Much of this system was maintained under the rule of colonialists and introduced following an election in 1948 by the National Party forcing segregation on the basis of race; there were racial groups in South Africa that were labeled including coloured individuals, black, people and white groups, as well as sub classes that included Indians (Crompton, 2009; Sonneborn, 2010). Individuals were forced to live in segregated areas of the country; many individuals including black had no citizenships, and had to live in regions that were self-governed (Limb, 2008).

Nelson Mandela was a leader of South African that resisted apartheid; he first became involved in the fight against segregation as a member of the National African Congress or ANC which was an organization that was working to help change the political structure in Africa, promoting greater equality and freedom among all peoples in Africa (Limb 2008). Mandela became the leader of this group eventually; this group was very similar to the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People or NAACAP) founded in the United States (Crompton, 2009, p.6). Interestingly, Mandela was fighting a battle in South Africa that was very similar to the battle that Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting in the United States. The two men lived somewhat similar lives, fighting to end segregation worlds apart.

Mandela’s primary efforts began in the 1950s. Mandela initially wanted to work in a peaceful and nonviolent method, in an attempt to attract attention toward the need to end segregation without violence. However, even though Mandela felt it was important not to promote violence, he did feel it was necessary to attract government attention. In this respect, his efforts including plans to engage in revolutionary tactics in the fight against segregation. Guerilla warfare was commonly employed as a method of engage the government during Mandela’s early regime. In 1962 government agents arrested Mandela for his guerilla tactics (Crompton, 2009). Agents discovered blueprints with Mandela’s writing in his home that implicated Mandela in plots against government buildings. Mandela did not deny his involvement, providing a speech to the effect of how important it was for the government to be brought down, and how important it was to provide democracy and freedom to the oppressed in his country.

Mandela was an outspoken agent in the fight against apartheid, particularly in court, never hesitating to speak out against oppression, and the need for people to recognize the ills brought against the people of South Africa. He was brought to trial as a leader for the ANC, and subsequently sentenced for over 27 years in prison (Crompton, 2009). One might expect that this was the end of Mandela’s efforts at apartheid and segregation, but in fact, this only resulted in more attention toward his efforts. His imprisonment did affect the ability of the ANC to move forward with many of their plans toward de-segregation, as was likely to government’s plans. By imprisoning one of the main political figures in the ANC movement, the government did succeed in slowing down anti-apartheid efforts. However, in no way did they stop Mandela from working toward de-segregation. As much as was possible, Mandela did work from prison to encourage members of the ANC to continue in their efforts. Mandela was not sentenced to death, as would have been the case for most guerilla agents that had plotted against the government, as this would have resulted in him becoming a martyr for his cause (Crompton, 2009). Nonetheless, the people of South Africa began to recognize how important Mandela was symbolically a hero for the people of South Africa. In the United States, Martin Luther was not as lucky, having been shot for his efforts; he became a true martyr in the effort against segregation and racial discrimination (Limb, 2008).

Despite his imprisonment, Mandela was able to facilitate change in South Africa. For many years, he was labeled among the lowest state prisoners, classified in the lowest prisons and not able to see many visitors. He was sentenced to harsher penalties because he was considered a danger to the government. He had some health problems while in prison, but this did not serve to discourage Mandela to discontinue in his political efforts; as much as was possible, Mandela met with important political agents whenever was possible to help facilitate the efforts toward desegregation within the country (Crompton, 2009). Officials and members of the ANC eagerly petitioned for his release, and anxiously awaited word from Mandela when possible. Eventually over the years, Mandela’s prisoner status changed and he was able to receive visitors and make contacts more frequently, meeting with important officials, conducting business among outside agents in the apartheid movement (Limb, 2008). Mandela worked from prison to make negotiations, although he refused to compromise with government agents about being set free if he agreed not to engage in certain anti-apartheid activities (Limb, 2008). Mandela would not compromise on his goals or his belief systems. His long imprisonment affected the ANCs ability to negotiate anti-apartheid talks to some extent, but leaders were confident that eventually they would meet their goals and initiatives. The government continued to create “extreme” policies (Limb, 95) in the meantime, thus ultimately full de-segregation would have to wait a few more years. In 1985 Mandela worked to bring anti-apartheid leaders together to negotiate release, but Mandela was never able to compromise because the terms severe not favorable (Sonnenborn, 2010). When Mandela was finally released he immediately began efforts to reform the country, as evidenced by his efforts to encourage voting by all citizens in South Africa regardless of who they were, and what race they were (Sonnenborn, 2010). Mandela was elected President in the first election that allowed voting by all citizens in 1994; his efforts at ending apartheid resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him in 1993 (Sonneborn, 2010).

Mandela’s contributions impacted South Africa in many ways. His efforts at reform included a near lifetime of living in prison, and eventual release due to many factors including international calls for his release; the world supported Mandela, in part because he was only imprisoned as a result of asking for the freedom of the people of South Africa (Sonneborn, 2010; Limb 2008; Crompton, 2009). Few could argue that Mandela was a true leader, in the sense that he would not back down from his moral obligation to ensure that the people of South Africa would be freed from the pressure and oppression of segregation, even if that meant that Mandela would have to spend a near lifetime in prison. He serves as a leader, and many consider him a role model and representative of peace and the need to stand up for one’s cause. He lived a life of charity following his role of President of South Africa.

  • Crompton, S.W. 2009. Nelson Mandela: Ending Apartheid in South Africa. InfoBase Publishing.
  • Limb, P. (2008). Nelson Mandela: A Biography. ABC-CLIO.
  • Sonneborn, L. (2010). The End of Apartheid in South Africa. InfoBase Publishing.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now