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Mandela, Nelson 1918–

Nelson Mandela 1918

President of South Africa

Became Political Activist

ANC Banned

Sentenced to Life in Prison

Freed at Last

Hopes for South Africas Future

Battle Not Over

Sources

Nelson Mandela has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of black South Africans, enduring trial and incarceration for his principles. A political prisoner in his native South Africa for more than 25 years, the eloquent and statesman-like Mandela became the human embodiment of the struggle against government-mandated discrimination. His courage and determination through decades of imprisonment galvanized not only South African blacks, but also concerned citizens on every continent. Since his release from prison in 1990, Mandela has reclaimed his position in the once-banned African National Congress (ANC) and has fought tirelessly for democratic reform in his troubled homeland.

With his magnetic personality and calm demeanor, Mandela is widely regarded as the last best hope for conciliating a peaceful transition to a South African government that will enfranchise all of its citizens. For whites, wrote John F. Burns in the New York Times, a man once presented to them as a threat to everything they prize is now widely viewed as the best hope for a political settlement that will guarantee them a future. For blacks, Mr. Mandela has achieved a legendary stature, towering above most other leaders in the way that [Communist leader Vladimir] Lenin dominated the revolutionary cause in Russia, and [Prime Minister Winston] Churchill the fight for Englands survival in World War II.

Time magazine contributor Richard Lacayo characterized Mandela as a figure who is unique among heroes because he is a living embodiment of black liberation. His soft-spoken manner and unflappable dignity bespeak his background as a lawyer, a single-minded political organizer and a longtime prisoner still blinking a bit in the spotlight. Lacayo continued: For the many blacks who have begun to call themselves African Americans, [Mandela] is a flesh-and-blood exemplar of what an African can be. For Americans of all colors, weary of their nations perennial racial standoffs, [he] offers the opportunity for a full-throated expression of their no less perennial hope for reconciliation.

Became Political Activist

Nelson Mandela could have lived a relatively comfortable life in obscurity had he wished. In 1918, he was born the son of a highly-placed tribal advisor in rural Umtata

At a Glance . . .

Full name, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela; born in 1918 in Umtata, Transkei, South Africa; son of Henry (a Tembu tribal chief) Mandela; married Evelyn Ntoko Mase (a nurse), 1944, divorced, 1956; married Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza (a social worker and political activist), June 14, 1958, separated, 1992; children: (first marriage) Thembi (a son; deceased), Makgatho (son), Makaziwe (daughter); (second marriage) Zenani (daughter), Zindziswa (daughter). Education : Attended University College of Fort Hare and Witwatersrand University; University of South Africa, law degree, 1942.

Lawyer, political activist, and leader of the African National Congress, 1944. Joined African National Congress, 1944, became secretary and president of the Congress Youth League, 1944, and president of the Youth League, 1951-52; helped to draft ANCs Freedom Charter, 1955. Appointed honorary secretary of the All-African National Action Council, 1961; became head of Umkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), an underground paramilitary wing of the ANC, 1961.

Sentenced to five years in prison for inciting Africans to strike and for leaving South Africa without a valid travel document, 1962; sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage and treason, 1964; incarcerated in various penal institutions in South Africa, including Robben Island and Pollsmoor prison, 1962-90; released February 11, 1990; elected ANC president, 1991; elected president of South Africa, April 27, 1994; inaugarated, May 12, 1994.

Selected awards: Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding from the government of India, 1980; Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights from the government of Austria, 1981; named an honorary citizen of Rome, 1983; Simon Bolivar International Prize from UNESCO, 1983; W. E. B. DuBois Medal, 1986; Nobel Peace Prize, 1987; Liberty Medal, 1987; Sakharov Prize, 1988; Gaddaff Human Rights Prize, 1989; Houphouet Prize, 1991; numerous international honorary degrees.

Addresses: Office c/o African National Congress of South Africa, 801 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017.

(later the black homeland of Transkei). As a youth Mandela spent his days farming and herding cattle. After the death of his father in 1930, the 12-year-old was sent to live with the chief of the Tembu tribe. There he impressed his elders with his quick intelligence and maturity. Many thought he would someday become chief himself.

Mandelas tribal name, Rolihlahla, means one who brings trouble upon himself--quite descriptive of the difficult path the young man chose when he reached adulthood. In his late teens Mandela renounced his hereditary right to the tribal chiefdom and entered college in pursuit of a law degree. He became a political activist in short order, and, in 1940, was expelled from University College at Fort Hare for leading a student strike. Soon thereafter, he moved closer to the commercial capital of Johannesburg, where he worked in the gold mines and studied law by correspondence course. He earned his law degree from the University of South Africa in 1942.

Mandela was 24 when he joined the ANC, a group that sought to establish social and political rights for blacks in South Africa. In 1944, Mandela and several friends founded a sub-group, the Congress Youth League, and adopted a platform calling for nonviolent protest and black African self-reliance and self-determination. The country Mandela and his Youth League comrades lived in was then, as it is now, populated primarily by blacks but governed completely by whites. Black citizens were legally discriminated against in housing, education, and economic opportunity; they could not vote, and they were subjected to numerous white-authored laws and restrictions. The Youth League responded to this racist political climate by calling for civil disobedience--nonviolent strikes and stay-at-home days in protest of no less than 600 apartheid laws.

From his position as a leader of the Youth League, Mandela helped to coordinate labor strikes and campaigns to defy the unjust laws. Unfortunately, the ANC protest rallies were often met by police brutality. In 1950, 18 blacks were killed during a labor walkout, and again, in 1952, a great number of protesters--including Mandela--were beaten and jailed for opposing the South African government. On that occasion Mandela received a nine-month suspended jail sentence and was ordered to resign from the ANC leadership. Refusing, he moved into underground work because he was forbidden to attend public meetings.

By the time Mandela reappeared in public in 1955, apartheid --meaning apartness in the derivative dutch language spoken by South African whites known as Afrikaans--had been taken to extreme ends in South Africa. The government continued to tighten restrictions on its black non-citizens, creating segregated townships and homelands where blacks were forced to settle. Late in 1956, Mandela was arrested with 155 other anti-apartheid leaders and was charged with treason under a convenient anti-Communist statute. Freed on bail, Mandela mounted his own defense and practiced law on the side as the infamous Treason Trial dragged on and on. Although he was again banned from political activity, he persisted in his efforts for the cause of the ANC. He also found time to marry his second wife, a social worker named Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza. She too was a dedicated activist who supported her husbands efforts to end apartheid, and would later be jailed herself throughout much of his decades-long prison term.

ANC Banned

Early in 1960, a demonstration in the Johannesburg suburb of Sharpeville turned violent when police killed 69 unarmed protesters. The massacre sparked nationwide outrage, and the government acted quickly to ban the ANC and some of its splinter groups. Mandela once again found himself detained by police without being charged with a crime. Sickened by the failure of the nonviolent protests, he quietly decided that more extreme measures needed to be taken against the white supremacist government. In a 1961 speech before the Pan-Africanist Conference in Ethiopia, he said: Peace in our country must be considered already broken when a minority government maintains its authority over the majority by force and violence.

Meanwhile, the Treason Trial entered its final stages and proved to be an effective forum for Mandelas views. As his own defense attorney, Mandela mounted a spirited justification of the ANCs goals and methods. He insisted that his organization sought the franchise and equal rights for South Africans of all races, and he maintained that nonviolent disruptive tactics were the only means by which South African blacks could air their discontent. Mandela and his co-defendants were acquitted in 1961, but their ANC had been declared illegal. Although he was free to go about his business, Mandela realized that he could no longer conduct his business without breaking the law.

Forced underground, Mandela founded a new group, Umkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a guerrilla organization that directed sabotage actions against government installations and other symbols of apartheid. Mandela travelled throughout Africa seeking funds for his cause, at every turn eluding capture by South African security police. The hardships he faced affected his family as well, as Winnie Mandela remembered in People magazine. He told me to anticipate a life physically without him, that there would never be a normal situation where he would be head of the family, Mrs. Mandela said. He told me this in great pain. I was completely shattered.

Sentenced to Life in Prison

The mass protests continued in South Africa, and the Spear of the Nation claimed responsibility for more than 70 acts of sabotage. On August 4, 1962, Mandela was arrested by South African police and charged with organizing illegal demonstrations. Once again he used his courtroom appearance as an opportunity to challenge the legality of South Africas minority rule. His defense was masterful and eloquent, but he was nevertheless convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. While he was serving this sentence, the police connected him to Spear of the Nation and charged him with the more serious crimes of treason and sabotage. After yet another trial, he was sentenced to life in prison in June of 1964.

Mandela was sent to Robben Island, a prison seven miles off the coast of Cape Town. There he endured years of hard labor quarrying limestone and harvesting seaweed, while his wife faced almost constant police harassment at home. In the eyes of the South African government, Nelson Mandela had effectively ceased to exist. Mere discussions of his views or questions about his health were illegal, and he was allowed no contact with the outside world and few visitors. Mandela never lost faith in his cause, however--and the black people of South Africa never forgot their fearless hero. As his years of imprisonment dragged on, he assumed the mantle of martyrdom and became a symbol of a governments desperate efforts to maintain minority rule.

In 1982 Mandela was moved from Robben Island to the maximum security Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town. The authorities offered official administrative reasons for the move, but most observers agree that Mandela was simply exerting a powerful influence over the other inmates of Robben Island. Mandela spent much of the next six years in solitary confinement, bolstered by a weekly 30-minute visit with his wife. He was offered a conditional freedom in 1984--provided that he would settle in the black homeland of Transkei--but he absolutely refused this option, affirming his allegiance to the ANC. And the New York Times Biographical Service reported that P. W. Botha, then president of South Africa, offered Mandela complete freedom in 1985 in return for his renunciation of violence, but he refused to do so until the government granted blacks full political rights.

Inevitably, Mandelas health deteriorated. In 1988 he was hospitalized with tuberculosis. After he recovered he returned to prison, but under somewhat more benign circumstances. By the late 1980s, social conditions in South Africa had become even more desperate, with violent confrontations between young blacks and government forces. The international tide was also turning against South Africa. Many private enterprises and national governments withdrew financial support for the beleaguered nation, and the resulting economic downturn literally forced the South African government to reconsider its dedication to apartheid. Finally, after 27 years, the white leadership heeded the calls from citizens of numerous nations to release the most important political prisoner of the late twentieth century, Nelson Mandela.

The winds of change were also spurred by the ascension of F. W. de Klerk to the presidency of South Africa after Botha suffered a mild stroke. Named as acting state president, de Klerk was elected to a five-year term as president in September of 1989. A reformer, de Klerk released several anti-apartheid leaders. According the New York Times Biographical Service, de Klerk then legalized the ANC and 60 other formerly banned organizations, clearing the way for Mr. Mandelas release. Though apartheid and security laws remained in place, he said he was accepting freedom to work for peace.

Freed at Last

In what was one of the most notable events of the year, the entire world watched on February 11, 1990, as Mandela--thin and gray but unbowed--walked out of Verster Prison. Writing about Mandelas release for the New York Times Biographical Service, Robert D. McFadden noted that anyone could see that the years of prison had ravaged only the body, not the spirit; they had, if anything, solidified his resolve and raised his stature as the embodiment of black liberation. Indeed, cheering crowds met him at every turn in South Africa. Mandela told People, I was completely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm. It is something I did not expect. In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, he later added, I saw a tremendous commotion and a great crowd of people, hundreds of photographers and television cameras and news people as well as thousands of well wishers. I was astounded and a bit alarmed. I had truly not expected such a scene.

Upon his release, Mandela quickly assumed a leadership position in the ANC, restored to legal status by the government. Within weeks he and his wife were travelling across their nation, calling for a truce in the armed struggle and open negotiations toward equal rights in South Africa. Before releasing him from prison, the South African government had repeatedly asked Mandela to renounce violence as a condition of his freedom whereupon he would always respond that he would not separate his freedom from that of his people. However, within six months of his release, Mandela officially suspended the ANCs armed struggle. This move alienated him from some of his previously most ardent supporters, forcing him to depend on the degree of cooperation he could both muster and maintain among the countrys black majority.

The Mandelas also embarked on a world tour, during which Nelson was welcomed as a hero and a world leader. In July of 1990, Mandela brought his message to the United States, where he toured a series of big cities raising funds for his cause. He also asked the American government to continue imposing economic sanctions against South Africa until the complete dismantlement of apartheid.

Meanwhile, Mandela and the ANC continued to face enormous problems in South Africa, some of which involved murderous feuds between black factions and terrorist actions in the townships. During apartheid, blacks had absolutely no rights to organize or to vote. As most exiled leaders continued returning to South Africa, the ANC, under Mandela, began the enormous task of negotiating for a democratic, multi-party, non-racial government. It was during these negotiations that South Africa experienced one of the bloodiest crisis in a short period of time.

Clashes between ANC supporters and the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, led by Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, escalated and more than 6,000 people were killed between 1990 and 1991. The turmoil was compounded by hardliner whites within the Defense Force, the police, and the Afrikaner Resistance Movement--militant white right wing supremacists led by Eugene Terreblanche. Terreblanche believed President de Klerk was selling out to the blacks. His group demanded their own Afrikaner state or volkstaat within the borders of South Africa.

Time correspondent Michael S. Serrill noted that the violence in his nation forced Mandela to face a sobering reality: he may have wielded more moral authority as the worlds most famous prisoner than he does as a political leader in his freedom. Serrill continued: To some South African blacks Mandela out of prison has become an irrelevant figurehead, a dignified gentleman with utopian socialist ideas that have little to do with their daily lives. Mandelas damaged stature has achieved an important aim of [the] white government: to demystify the ANC and make clear that Mandela is only one of many black players.

Those who figured Mandela, an amateur heavyweight boxer in his youth, was down and out for the count were vastly mistaken, however. In July of 1991, the ANC held its first full convention in South Africa, and Mandela was elected president of the organization. By the end of the year, a number of the political parties--except the militant white right wing, which still insisted on a separate state--took part in a Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). Despite a pact to end factional fighting endorsed by the government, the ANC, and Inkatha, killing continued and on several occasions talks broke down. At one point, the ANC even withdrew from CODESA. A breakthrough came a few weeks later when Mandela and de Klerk signed the Record of Understanding, stipulating that a single, freely elected constitutional assembly would serve as a transitional legislature and would draft a new constitution. Though the agreement met several key ANC demands, Buthelezi withdrew his Inkatha Freedom Party from negotiations.

Hopes for South Africas Future

Major hurdles were overcome by the end of 1993, moving the nation close to free and fair elections. Notable progress included the formation of a transitional Executive Council, which was charged with overseeing some aspects of government, including security. Meanwhile, April 27, 1994, was selected as the date for the much anticipated, first-ever democratic elections. A few days before the elections, the Inkatha Party agreed to participate after Buthelezis appeal to delay the elections was rejected by all concerned parties, clearly leaving Inkatha very little time to campaign. In the meantime, Mandela officially entered the race and campaigned freely.

As polls opened on election day, long lines of people were scattered throughout the country. In the black townships, some waited for several hours in order to exercise the right to vote for the first time in their lives. When the final tally was assessed, the ANC had picked up 62.6 percent of the vote, de klerk earned 20.3 percent, and the Inkatha Party garnered 10.5 percent, with the rest divided amongst smaller factions. Nelson Mandela had unanimously won the presidency of the Republic of South Africa, a nation whose racist government he had opposed and fought most of his life.

On May 12, 1994, after de Klerks graceful concession speech, Mandela addressed a cheering crowd with Coretta Scott King on stage with him. Echoing the sentiments of her slain husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mandelas proclamation was reprinted in Ebony : This is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy--pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such calm, patient determination to reclaim this country as your own, and now the joy that we can loudly proclaim from the rooftops: Free at last! Free at last. I stand before you humbled by your courage, with a heart full of love for all of you. Mandela went on to state, I am your servant. It is not the individuals that matter, but the collective. This is the time to heal the old wounds and build a new South Africa.

Battle Not Over

Following his inauguration, Mandela appointed a cabinet that included members of the Inkatha Freedom Party and the National (white) Party. Government officials also held discussions with the right wing Conservative Party and the fascist Afrikaner Resistance Movement, prompting Patrick Laurence to write in Africa Report, Even if Mandela achieves little more before he retires, he will have won a special niche in South African history as the dignified, white-haired patriarch who won the respect of his political enemies. Still, in 1996, de Klerk and members of his party resigned their cabinet positions to allow themselves time to organize as an effective opposition party.

Mandelas national unity government began drafting a program of reconstruction and development aimed at meeting some of the concerns of the long disenfranchised black population. Mandela, cognizant that many years and generations will pass before the deep wounds of apartheid are remedied, cautioned his people not to expect change overnight. Ebony quoted him as saying, You won t be driving a Mercedes or swimming in your own backyard pool [anytime soon]. Instead the statesman was focused on such issues as health, housing, education, and the development of public utilities, economic stability.

Social conditions in South Africa also scream for attention. Detroit News reporter Jeffrey Herbst suggested that one of the greatest tragedies of apartheid--the presence of an entire generation uneducated during the 1980s--further aggravates criminality. He went on to report that the South African crime rate had soared, particularly in Johannesburg, where a wave of violent assaults and carjackings affected business and scared tourists away. The same article noted that South Africas murder rate was estimated to be 10 times that of the United States, and an increase in money laundering and drug shipments had occurred. Crime and affirmative action spurred white flight; unemployment skyrocketed, and the value of the rand (South African currency) plunged. In July of 1996, a poll showed support for the ANC dropping from 60 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in July of 1996.

Since 1955, when the ANC published its Freedom Charter, the groups aims have changed little. Its political objectives include a unified South Africa with no artificial homelands, a black representation along with all other races in a central parliament, and a one-man, one-vote democracy in a multi-party system. That much has been accomplished.

Still a revolutionary in his mid-70s with several grown children, Mandela remains ever zealous in his pursuit of rights for all South Africans. Before becoming president, Mandela was much criticized for embracing and expressing his support for such notorious international figures as the Palestine Liberation Organizations Yasir Arafat, Cubas Fidel Castro, and Libyas Muamar Qaddafi. According to the New York Times Biographical Service, Mandela retorted to his detractors on this issue, What concerns me is the foreign policy of those countries, especially in so far as it relates to us [South Africa]. Those countries who are committed to assisting the antiapartheid forces in our country are our friends.

In keeping with that criteria, Mandelas cabinet passed a provisional approval of arms sales to Syria, prompting to the Clinton administration, in 1997, to threaten suspending U.S. aid to South Africa. Without question, relations between the United States and Mandelas South Africa are important to both sides. In a speech in New York City during the summer of 1990, Mandela thanked the American people for taking such an interest in him and his struggle. You, the people, never abandoned us, he said. From behind the granite walls, political prisoners could hear loud and clear your voice of solidarity. We are winning because you made it possible.

Mandela, recipient of several humanitarian awards, including a Nobel Prize (along with de Klerk), has spoken of possibly stepping down after his first term. Even if he does, Mandelas long walk will have ended in jubilation and triumph. As he reflected in his 1994 autobiography, I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter. I have discovered that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment to rest. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

Writings

No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books, 1965.

The Struggle Is My Life, Pathfinder Press, 1986.

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Little, 1994.

Sources

Books

Benson, Mary, Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement, Norton, 1986.

Black Writers, Gale, 1989.

Current Biography Yearbook, 1995.

Mandela, Nelson, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Little, 1994.

Mandela, Nelson, No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books, 1965.

Mandela, Nelson, The Struggle Is My Life, Pathfinder Press, 1986.

Mandela, Winnie, Part of My Soul Went with Him, Norton, 1985.

Periodicals

Africa Report, November/December 1994.

Business Day, January 14, 1997.

Detroit News, November 17, 1996, pp. 1B, 6B, 7B.

Ebony, August 1994; January 1995.

Newsweek, September 9, 1985; July 2, 1990.

New York Times, May 12, 1980; February 2, 1985; August 16, 1985; November 24, 1985; December 1, 1985; February 1, 1986; February 12, 1986; February 4, 1990; February 11, 1990; November 10, 1996, pp. 1, 8.

New York Times Biographical Service, February 1990, pp. 156-57.

Observer, April 22, 1973.

People, February 26, 1990.

South Africa News UPDATE, January 1997.

Time, January 6, 1986; January 5, 1987; April 9, 1990; July 2, 1990.

Other

DISCovering World History [CD ROM], Gale, 1997.

Anne Janette Johnson and Doris H. Mabunda

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Johnson, Anne; Mabunda, Doris. "Mandela, Nelson 1918–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Mandela, Nelson 1918—

Nelson Mandela 1918

Social and political activist

At a Glance

Became Political Activist

ANC Banned

Sentenced to Life in Prison

Freed at Last

Hopes for South Africas Future

Selected writings

Sources

Nelson Mandela has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of black South Africans, enduring trial and incarceration for his principles. A political prisoner in his native South Africa for more than twenty-seven years, the eloquent and statesman-like Mandela became the human embodiment of the struggle against government-mandated discrimination. His courage and determination through decades of imprisonment galvanized not only South African blacks, but also concerned citizens on every continent. Since his release from prison on February 11, 1990, Mandela has reclaimed his position in the once-banned African National Congress and has fought tirelessly for democratic reform in his troubled homeland.

With his magnetic personality and calm demeanor, Mandela is widely regarded as the last best hope for conciliating a peaceful transition to a South African government that will enfranchise all of its citizens. For whites, wrote John F. Burns in the New York Times, a man once presented to them as a threat to everything they prize is now widely viewed as the best hope for a political settlement that will guarantee them a future. For blacks, Mr. Mandela has achieved a legendary stature, towering above most other leaders in the way that Lenin dominated the revolutionary cause in Russia, and Churchill the fight for Englands survival in World War II.

Time magazine contributor Richard Lacayo Characterized Mandela as a figure who is unique among heroes because he is a living embodiment of black liberation. His soft-spoken manner and unflappable dignity bespeak his background as a lawyer, a single-minded political organizer and a longtime prisoner still blinking a bit in the spotlight. Lacayo continued: For the many blacks who have begun to call themselves African Americans, [Mandela] is a flesh-and-blood exemplar of what an African can be. For Americans of all colors, weary of their nations perennial racial standoffs, [he] offers the opportunity for a full-throated expression of their no less perennial hope for reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela could have lived a relatively comfortable life in obscurity had he wished. He was born in 1918 in rural Umtata in what is now the black homeland of Transkei, the son of a highly placed tribal adviser. As a youth Mandela spent his days farming and herding cattle.

At a Glance

Full name, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela; born in 1918 in Umtata, Transkei, South Africa; son of Henry (a Tembu tribal chief) Mandela; married Evelyn Ntoko Mase (a nurse), divorced; married Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza (a social worker and political activist), June 14, 1958; children: (first marriage) Thembi (a son; deceased), Makgatho (son), Makaziwe (daughter); (second marriage) Zenani (daughter), Zindziswa (daughter). Education: Attended University College of Fort Hare and Witwatersrand University; University of South Africa, law degree, 1942.

Lawyer, political activist, and leader of the African National Congress, 1944. Joined African National Congress, 1944, became secretary and president of the Congress Youth League, 1944, and president of the Youth League, 1951-52; helped to draft ANCs Freedom Charter, 1955. Appointed honorary secretary of the All-African National Action Council, 1961; became head of Umkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), an underground paramilitary wing of the ANC, 1961.

Sentenced to five years in prison for inciting Africans to strike and for leaving South Africa without a valid travel document, 1962; sentenced to life imprisonment for sabotage and treason, 1964; incarcerated in various penal institutions in South Africa, including Robben Island and Pollsmoor prison, 1962-90. Released February 11, 1990.

Awards: Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding from the government of India, 1980; Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights from the government of Austria, 1981; Simon Bolivar International Prize from UNESCO, 1983; Nobel Peace Prize nomination, 1987.

Addresses: Officec/o African National Congress of South Africa, 801 Second Ave., New York, NY 10017.

After the death of his father in 1930, the twelve-year-old was sent to live with the chief of the Tembu tribe. There he impressed his elders with his quick intelligence and maturity. Many thought he would someday become chief himself.

Became Political Activist

Mandelas tribal name, Rolihlahla, means one who brings trouble upon himself. It is therefore quite descriptive of the difficult path the young man chose when he reached adulthood. In his late teens Mandela renounced his hereditary right to the tribal chiefdom and entered college in pursuit of a law degree. He became a political activist in short order and in 1940 was expelled from University College at Fort Hare for leading a student strike. Soon thereafter he moved closer to the commercial capital of Johannesburg, where he worked in the gold mines and studied law by correspondence course. He earned his law degree from the University of South Africa in 1942.

Mandela was twenty-four when he joined the African National Congress, a group that sought to establish social and political rights for blacks in South Africa. In 1944 Mandela and several friends founded a sub-group, the Congress Youth League, and adopted a platform calling for nonviolent protest and black African self-reliance and self-determination. The country Mandela and his Youth League comrades lived in was then, as it is now, populated primarily by blacks but governed completely by whites. Black citizens were legally discriminated against in housing, education, and economic opportunity; they could not vote and were subjected to numerous white-authored laws and restrictions. The Youth League responded to this racist political climate by calling for civil disobediencenonviolent strikes and stay-at-home days in protest of no less than six hundred racist laws.

From his position as a leader of the Youth League, Mandela helped to coordinate labor strikes and campaigns to defy the unjust laws. Unfortunately, ANC protest rallies were often repulsed by police brutality. In 1950 eighteen blacks were killed during a labor walkout, and again in 1952 a great number of protestersincluding Mandelawere beaten and jailed for opposing the South African government. On that occasion Mandela received a nine-month suspended jail sentence and was ordered to resign from the ANC leadership. Mandela refused to resign and moved into underground work because he was forbidden to attend public meetings.

By the time Mandela reappeared in public in 1955, apartheid meaning apartness in the Afrikaans languagehad been taken to extreme ends in South Africa. The government continued to tighten restrictions on its black non-citizens, creating segregated townships and homelands where blacks were forced to settle. Late in 1956, Mandela was arrested with 155 other anti-apartheid leaders and was charged with treason under a convenient anti-Communist statute. Freed on bail, Mandela mounted his own defense and practiced law on the side as the infamous Treason Trial dragged on and on. Although he was again banned from political activity, he persisted in his efforts for the cause of the African National Congress. He also found time to marry his second wife, a social worker named Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza. She too was a dedicated activist who supported her husbands efforts to end apartheid.

ANC Banned

Early in 1960, a demonstration in the Johannesburg suburb of Sharpeville turned violent when police killed sixty-nine unarmed protesters. The massacre sparked nationwide outrage, and the government acted quickly to ban the African National Congress and some of its splinter groups. Mandela once again found himself detained by police without being charged with a crime. Sickened by the failure of the nonviolent protests, he quietly decided that more extreme measures needed to be taken against the white supremacist government. In a 1961 speech before the Pan-Africanist Conference in Ethiopia, he said: Peace in our country must be considered already broken when a minority government maintains its authority over the majority by force and violence.

Meanwhile, the Treason Trial entered its final stages and proved to be an effective forum for Mandelas views. As his own defense attorney, Mandela mounted a spirited justification of the ANCs goals and methods. He insisted that his organization sought the franchise and equal rights for South Africans of all races, and he maintained that nonviolent disruptive tactics were the only means by which South African blacks could air their discontent. Mandela and his co-defendants were acquitted in 1961, but their African National Congress had been declared illegal. Although he was free to go about his business, Mandela realized that he could no longer conduct his business without breaking the law.

Forced underground, Mandela founded a new group, Umkonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a guerrilla organization that directed sabotage actions against government installations and other symbols of apartheid. Mandela travelled throughout Africa seeking funds for his cause, at every turn eluding capture by South African security police. The hardships he faced affected his family as well, as Winnie Mandela remembered in People magazine. He told me to anticipate a life physically without him, that there would never be a normal situation where he would be head of the family, Mrs. Mandela said. He told me this in great pain. I was completely shattered.

Sentenced to Life in Prison

Mass protests continued in South Africa, and the Spear of the Nation claimed responsibility for more than seventy acts of sabotage. On August 4, 1962, Mandela was arrested by South African police and charged with organizing illegal demonstrations. Once again he used his courtroom appearance as an opportunity to challenge the legality of South Africas minority rule. His defense was masterful and eloquent, but he was nevertheless convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. While he was serving this sentence, the police connected him to Spear of the Nation and charged him with the more serious crimes of treason and sabotage. After yet another trial, he was sentenced to life in prison in June of 1964.

Mandela was sent to Robben Island, a prison seven miles off the coast of Cape Town. There he endured years of hard labor quarrying limestone and harvesting seaweed, while his wife faced almost constant police harassment at home. In the eyes of the South African government, Nelson Mandela had effectively ceased to exist. Mere discussions of his views or questions about his health were illegal, and he was allowed no contact with the outside world and few visitors. Mandela never lost faith in his cause, howeverand the black people of South Africa never forgot their fearless hero. As his years of imprisonment dragged on, he assumed the mantle of martyrdom and became a symbol of the governments desperate efforts to maintain minority rule.

In 1982 Mandela was moved from Robben Island to the maximum security Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town. The authorities offered official administrative reasons for the move, but most observers agree that Mandela was simply exerting a powerful influence over the other inmates of Robben Island. Mandela spent much of the next six years in solitary confinement, bolstered by a weekly thirty-minute visit with his wife. He was offered a conditional freedom in 1984provided that he would settle in the black homeland of Transkeibut absolutely refused this option, affirming his allegiance to the African National Congress.

Inevitably, Mandelas health deteriorated. In 1988 he was hospitalized with tuberculosis. After he recovered he returned to prison, but under somewhat more benign circumstances. By the late 1980s, social conditions in South Africa had become even more desperate, with frequent violent confrontations between young blacks and government forces. The international tide was also turning against South Africa. Many private enterprises and national governments withdrew financial support for the beleaguered nation, and the resulting economic downturn literally forced the South African government to reconsider its dedication to apartheid. Finally, after twenty-seven years, the white leadership heeded the calls of citizens of numerous nations to release the most important political prisoner of the late twentieth century, Nelson Mandela.

Freed at Last

The whole world watched on February 11, 1990, as Mandelathin and gray, but unbowedwalked out of Verster Prison. Cheering crowds met him at every turn. He told People: I was completely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm. It is something I did not expect. Mandela quickly assumed a leadership position in the African National Congress, restored to legal status by the government. Within weeks he and his wife were travelling across their nation, calling for a truce in the armed struggle and open negotiations toward equal rights in South Africa. In July of 1990 Mandela brought his message to the United States when he toured a series of big cities, raising funds for his cause. He also asked the American government to continue imposing economic sanctions against South Africa until apartheid is completely dismantled.

Mandela and the ANC continue to face enormous problems in South Africa, some of which involve murderous feuds between black factions and terrorist actions in the townships. Time correspondent Michael S. Serrill noted that the violence in his nation has forced Mandela to face a sobering reality: He may have wielded more moral authority as the worlds most famous prisoner than he does as a political leader in his freedom. Serrill continued: To some South African blacks, Mandela out of prison has become an irrelevant figurehead, a dignified gentleman with Utopian socialist ideas that have little to do with their daily lives. Mandelas damaged stature has achieved an important aim of [the] white government: to demystify the A.N.C. and make clear that Mandela is only one of many black players. The role Mandela takes in a more enlightened South Africa may depend on the degree of cooperation he can muster among the countrys black majority.

Hopes for South Africas Future

Now in his mid-seventies with several grown children, Mandela remains ever zealous in his pursuit of rights for all South Africans. He is still a revolutionary who counts as allies anyone who supports his causeincluding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Libyas Colonel Muammar Kaddafi, and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In Newsweek, Tom Masland claimed that Mandela hasnt renounced the use of violence, he wants to nationalize at least some industries, and he remains willing to take help from anyone and return the favor.

This attitude only illustrates the persistent state of concern Mandela and the ANC feel about social conditions in South Africa. Since 1955, when it published its Freedom Charter, the groups aims have changed little. Its political objectives include a unified South Africa with no artificial homelands, a black representation along with all other races in a central parliament, and a one-man, one-vote democracy in a multi-party system.

In a speech in New York City during the summer of 1990, Mandela thanked the American people for taking such an interest in him and his struggle. You, the people, never abandoned us, he said. From behind the granite walls, political prisoners could hear loud and clear your voice of solidarity. We are winning because you made it possible.

Selected writings

No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books, 1965.

The Struggle Is My Life, Pathfinder Press, 1986.

Sources

Books

Benson, Mary, Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement, Norton, 1986.

Black Writers: A Selection of Sketches From Contemporary Authors, Gale, 1989.

Mandela, Nelson, No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books, 1965.

Mandela, Nelson, The Struggle Is My Life, Pathfinder Press, 1986.

Mandela, Winnie, Part of My Soul Went With Him, Norton, 1985.

Periodicals

Newsweek, September 9, 1985; July 2, 1990.

New York Times, May 12, 1980; February 2, 1985; August 16, 1985; November 24, 1985; December 1, 1985; February 1, 1986; February 12, 1986; February 4, 1990; February 11, 1990.

Observer, April 22, 1973.

People, February 26, 1990.

Time, January 6, 1986; January 5, 1987; April 9, 1990; July 2, 1990.

Anne Janette Johnson

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Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (born 1918) was a South African resistance leader who, after years of imprisonment for opposing apartheid, emerged to become the first president of a black-majority-ruled South Africa and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The father of Nelson Mandela was a Xhosa chief in the Transkei, where Mandela was born. He studied law at Witwatersrand University and set up practice in Johannesburg in 1952. The years between 1951 and 1960 were marked by turbulence. The younger nationalists, led by Mandela and others, were coming to the view that non-violent demonstrations against apartheid invited state violence against the Africans. There was also criticism of the type of collaboration with the non-Africans which the African National Congress (ANC) practiced. These nationalists were not unanimous on the alternative to nonviolence.

Unlike the young leaders with whom he grew up, Mandela was ready to try every possible technique to destroy apartheid peacefully, though he, too, realized the futility of nonviolence in view of the conditions which prevailed in his country. His attitude enabled him to support Albert Luthuli when some of the militants walked out of the ANC.

Mandela had joined the ANC in 1944, at a time of crisis for the movement. Its younger members had opposed African participation in World War II and had demanded the declaration of South Africa's war aims for the black people. The Old Guard, led by Dr. Alfred Batini Xuma, was reluctant to embarrass the Jan Smuts government by pressing the African people's demands for the abolition of segregation. The militants, led by Anton M. Lembede, formed the ANC Youth League in 1943. Mandela was elected its president in 1951 and campaigned extensively for the repeal of discriminatory laws. He was appointed volunteer in chief in the resistance movement which the ANC led in 1951-1952, and he was subsequently banned for 6 months and later sentenced to 9 months for his leadership of the defiance campaign.

Mandela was one of the leaders arrested with Luthuli and charged with treason in 1956. The case against him and others collapsed in 1961. He was arrested again during the state of emergency which followed the Sharpeville shootings in 1960. Both the Pan-Africanist Congress, which had organized the demonstrations which led to the shootings, and the ANC were banned.

Sharpeville had made it clear that the days of nonviolent resistance were over. A semi-underground movement, the All-African National Action Council, came into being in 1961. Mandela was appointed its honorary secretary and later became head of Umkhonto we Sizwe (the Spear of the Nation), which used sabotage in its fight against apartheid.

Mandela traveled for a while in free Africa. On his return he was arrested for leaving the country illegally and for inciting the Africans to strike in protest against the establishment of the Republic of South Africa. He was sentenced to 5 years in jail. At the trial, he told the court, "I want at once to make it clear that I am not a racialist and do not support any racialism of any kind, because to me racialism is a barbaric thing whether it comes from a black man or a white man."

Mandela subsequently figured in the Rivonia trial with other leaders of Umkhonto we Sizwe on a charge of high treason and was given a life sentence, which he began serving on Robben Island.

During the 27 years that Mandela spent in prison, hidden from the eyes of the world while he quarried limestome and harvested seaweed, his example of quiet suffering was just one of numerous pressures on the apartheid government. Public discussion of Mandela was illegal, and he was allowed few visitors. But as the years dragged on, he assumed the mantle of a martyr. In 1982 Mandela was moved to the maximum security Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town. This move apparently stemmed from fears by the South African authorities that Mandela was exerting too great an influence on the other prisons at Robben Island. Mandela spent much of the next six years in solitary confinement, during which he was allowed a weekly 30-minute visit by his wife, Winnie. He was offered a conditional freedom in 1984 on the condition that he settle in the officially designated black "homeland" of Transkei, an offer Mandela refused with an affirmation of his allegiance to the African National Congress. In 1988, Mandela was hospitalized with tuberculosis, and after his recovery he was returned to prison under somewhat less stringent circumstances. By this time, the situation within South Africa was becoming desperate for the ruling powers. Civil unrest had spread, and international boycotts and diplomatic pressures were increasing. More and more, South Africa was isolated as a racist state. It was against this backdrop that F.W. de Klerk, the President of South Africa and leader of the white-dominated National party, finally heeded the calls from around the world to release Mandela.

On Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela, grey and thin but standing erect and appearing in surprisingly good health, walked out of Verster Prison. He received tumultuous welcomes wherever he went. He visited the United States in July 1990 to raise funds for his cause and received overwhelming acclaim at every turn. In 1991 Mandela assumed the presidency of the African National Congress, by then restored to legal status by the government. Both Mandela and deKlerk realized that only a compromise between whites and blacks could avert a disasterous civil war in South Africa. In late 1991 a multiparty Convention for a Democratic South Africa convened to establish a Democratic government. Mandela and deKlerk led the negotiations, and their efforts later won them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In September 1992 the two leaders signed a Record of Understanding that created a freely elected constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution and act as a transition government. On April 27, 1994, the first free elections open to all South African citizens were held. The ANC won over 62 percent of the popular vote and Mandela was elected president.

Mandela's agenda as president consisted of defusing the still dangerous political differences and building up the South African economy. The former he attempted to achieve by former a coalition cabinet with representatives of different groups included. The latter he attempted to attain by inviting new investment from abroad, setting aside some government contracts for black entrepreneurs, and initiating action to return to blacks land seized in 1913. Mandela ran into some personal sorrow during this period in the downfall of his wife, Winnie. After all his years of imprisonment, the Mandelas were separated in 1993 and divorced in 1996. Mandela had appointed his then-wife to his cabinet, but she was forced to exit in 1995 after evidence of her complicity in civil violence was revealed.

However, Mandela's presidency for the most part was successful to a remarkable degree. Mandela's skill as a consensus builder, plus his enormous personal authority, helped him lead the transition to a majority democracy and what promised to be a peaceful future. He backed the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which offered amnesty to those who had committed crimes during the apartheid era in the interests of clearing up the historical record. The elderly statesman even gave rise to a new style of dress in South Africa known as "Madiba smart." "Madiba" was Mandela's Xhosa clan title, by which he was informally known. And "smart" was local slang for nicely turned out. The style became popular after Mandela traded his business suits for brightly patterned silk shirts, carefully buttoned at the neck and wrists, worn with dress slacks and shoes.

Mandela without question was both the leading political prisoner of the late 20th century and one of Africa's most important reformers. The man who spent nearly three decades in prison out of dedication to his cause became an international symbol of human rights. That he proved to be an effective negotiator and practical politician as well only added to his reputation and proved a blessing to his nation. Indeed, the question as Mandela's term drew near its end and Mandela neared his 80th birthday was ever more pointedly, "After Mandela, who?"

Further Reading

Mandela's address to the court when he was tried for leaving the country without the necessary documents remains an important statement of his views on South Africa's race question. Marion Friedmann reproduced parts of the address in her book, I Will Still Be Moved: Reports from South Africa (1963); Additional statements of Mandela are in No Easy Walk to Freedom: Articles, Speeches and Trial Addresses (1965), edited by Ruth First; For further background see Mary Benson, Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement (1986); Ronald Harwood, Mandela (1988); Sheridan Johns and R. Hunt Davis, Jr., editors, Mandela, Tambo, & the African National Congress: The Struggle Against Apartheid, 1948-1990: A Documentary Study (1991); Nelson Mandela, Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography (1996); Leo Kuper, Passive Resistance in South Africa (1957); and Mary Benson, The African Patriots: The Story of the African National Congress in South Africa (1963). □

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"Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Mandela, Nelson

Nelson Mandela

Born: 1918
Transkei, South Africa

South African president and political activist

Nelson Mandela is a South African leader who spent years in prison for opposing apartheid, the policy by which the races were separated and whites were given power over blacks in South Africa. Upon his release from prison, Mandela became the first president of a black-majority-ruled South Africa in which apartheid was officially ended. A symbol of hope for many, Mandela is also a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Youth and education

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in a small village in the southeastern region of South Africa called the Transkei. His father was chief of the village and a member of the royal family of the Thembu tribe, which spoke the Xhosa language. As a boy, Mandela grew up in the company of tribal elders and chiefs, which gave him a rich sense of African self-government and heritage, despite the cruel treatment of blacks in white-governed South Africa.

Mandela was also deeply influenced by his early education in Methodist church schools. The instruction he received there set Mandela on a path leading away from some African tribal traditions, such as an arranged marriage set up by a tribal elder, which he refused. After being expelled from Fort Hare University College in 1940 for leading a student strike, Mandela obtained a degree from Witwatersrand University. In 1942 he received a degree in law from the University of South Africa.

Joining the ANC

In 1944 Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC), a South African political party. Since its founding, the ANC's main goal had been to work to improve conditions and rights for people of color in South Africa. However, its fairly conservative stance had led some members to call for less timid measures. Mandela became one of the ANC's younger and more radical leaders as a member of the ANC's Youth League. He became president of the league in 1951.

The years between 1951 and 1960 were troubled times, both for South Africa and for the ANC. Younger antiapartheid activists (protesters), including Mandela, were coming to the view that nonviolent demonstrations against apartheid did not work, because they allowed the South African government to respond with violence against Africans. Although Mandela was ready to try every possible technique to destroy apartheid peacefully, he began to feel that nonviolent resistance would not change conditions in the end.

In 1952 Mandela's leadership of ANC protest activities led to a nine-month jail sentence. Later, in 1956, he was arrested with other ANC leaders for promoting resistance to South Africa's "pass laws" that prevented blacks from moving freely in the country. Mandela was charged with treason (a crime committed against one's country), but the charges against him and others collapsed in 1961. By this time, however, the South African government had outlawed the ANC. This move followed events at Sharpeville in 1960, when police fired on a crowd of unarmed protesters.

Sharpeville had made it clear that the days of nonviolent resistance were over. In 1961 antiapartheid leaders created a semi-underground (operating illegally) movement called the All-African National Action Council. Mandela was appointed its honorary secretary and later became head of Umkhonto weSizwe (the Spear of the Nation), a militant ANC organization which used sabotage (destruction of property and other tactics used to undermine the government) in its fight against apartheid.

Political prisoner

In 1962 Mandela was again arrested, this time for leaving South Africa illegally and for inciting strikes. He was sentenced to five years in jail. The following year he was tried with other leaders of Umkhonto weSizwe on a charge of high treason, following a government raid of the group's secret headquarters. Mandela was given a life sentence, which he began serving in the maximum security prison on South Africa's Robben Island.

During the twenty-seven years that Mandela spent in prison, his example of quiet suffering was just one of many pressures on South Africa's apartheid government. Public discussion of Mandela was illegal, and he was allowed few visitors. But as the years dragged on, he was increasingly viewed as a martyr (one who suffers for a cause) in South Africa and around the world, making him a symbol of international protests against apartheid.

In 1988 Mandela was hospitalized with an illness, and after his recovery he was returned to prison under somewhat less harsh conditions. By this time, the situation within South Africa was becoming desperate for the ruling white powers. Protest had spread, and international pressures for the end of apartheid were increasing. More and more, South Africa was isolated as a racist state. It was against this backdrop that F. W. de Klerk (1936), the president of South Africa, finally responded to the calls from around the world to release Mandela.

Freedom

On February 11, 1990, Mandela walked out of prison. He received joyful welcomes wherever he went around the world. In 1991 he assumed the presidency of the ANC, which had been given legal status again by the government.

Both Mandela and deKlerk realized that only a compromise between whites and blacks could prevent civil war in South Africa. As a result, in late 1991, a multiparty Convention for a Democratic South Africa met to establish a new, democratic government that gave people of all colors rights to determine the country's future. Mandela and deKlerk led the negotiations, and their efforts gained them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In September 1992, the two leaders signed a document that created a freely elected constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution and to act as a transition government (a government that functions temporarily while a new government is being formed). On April 27, 1994, the first free elections open to all South African citizens were held. The ANC won over sixty-two percent of the popular vote, and Mandela was elected president.

Presidency and retirement

As president, Mandela worked to ease the dangerous political differences in his country and to build up the South African economy. To a remarkable degree he was successful in his aims. Mandela's skill at building compromise and his enormous personal authority helped him lead the transition to democracy. In an effort to help the country heal, he also backed the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which offered amnesty (exemption from criminal prosecution) to those who had committed crimes during the apartheid era. This action helped to promote discussion about the country's history.

Mandela retired in June 1999, choosing not to challenge Thabo Mbeki, his vice president, in elections. Mbeki won the election for the ANC and was inaugurated as president on June 16, 1999. Mandela quickly took on the role of statesman after leaving office, acting that year as a mediator in the peace process in Burundi, where a civil war had led to the killing of thousands.

In late 2001, Mandela joined the outcry against terrorism when he expressed his support for the American bombing of Afghanistan after terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. By January 2002, however, Mandela had modified his support somewhat after South African Muslims criticized him for appearing to be insensitive to the sufferings of the Afghan people. As quoted by the Associated Press, Mandela called his earlier remarks supporting the bombings an "overstatement" and urged caution against prematurely labeling Osama bin Laden, the man suspected of plotting the attacks, as a terrorist.

For More Information

Benson, Mary. Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986.

Harwood, Ronald. Mandela. New York: New American Library, 1987.

Hughes, Libby. Nelson Mandela: Voice of Freedom. New York: Dillon Press, 1992.

Johns, Sheridan, and R. Hunt Davis Jr., eds. Mandela, Tambo, & the African National Congress: The Struggle Against Apartheid, 19481990: A Documentary Study. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.

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Mandela, Nelson

Mandela, Nelson 1918-

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is South Africas iconic elder statesman and winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. After almost fifty years of antiapartheid activism as a leader in the African National Congress (ANC), including over twenty-seven years in prison (19621990), Mandela became South Africas first democratically elected president in 1994. Since stepping down from the presidency in 1999, he has continued to play a visible role in South African and international affairs.

Born into the royal Tembu family near Umtata in the Transkei, Mandela attended missionary schools prior to entering Fort Hare University College in 1939. Suspended for participation in student protests in 1940, he moved to Johannesburg, completing a bachelors degree through correspondence in 1942. Working and studying part time, he qualified as an attorney through apprenticeship and passage of the qualifying exam in 1952.

His political career began in 1944, when he became a founding member of the Youth League of the ANC. He was prominent in efforts to galvanize the senior ANC to greater militancy that culminated in passage of the Program of Action in 1949. Dropping his opposition to collaboration with communists and Indian nationalists in the wake of their determined opposition to the relentless post-1948 implementation of apartheid, Mandela was at the center of the ANC-led Defiance Campaign (19521953), uniting Africans and antiapartheid volunteers of all races and ideological persuasions in nonviolent protest actions. Elected provincial president of the Transvaal ANC and deputy national president of the ANC in 1953, he was banned from political activity by the government and forced to resign. For the remainder of the decade, he concentrated on organizational activities behind the scenes. Only during the long-running treason trial (19561961) of 156 ANC members and their non-African allies was Mandela highly visible as lawyer, witness, and spokesman from the dock.

After the defendants in the treason trial were acquitted, Mandela went underground to organize support for unsuccessful mass protests in May 1961. Popularly dubbed the Black Pimpernel, surfacing sporadically in South Africa and during a seven-month overseas trip, he evaded arrest and prison for seventeen months. While underground, he participated in clandestine meetings of the ANC (banned in 1960 under the Unlawful Organizations Act in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre) at which the ANC decided to end its policy of nonviolence. Mandela and other leaders of the banned ANC and its also proscribed ally, the Communist Party, then formed a unit called Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in mid-1961 to conduct sabotage and prepare for eventual guerrilla warfare. In August 1962 Mandela was apprehended by the police in Howick, Natal, and in November 1962 he was sentenced to five years in prison for incitement to strike and leaving the country illegally.

Subsequent to the separate arrest of nine other leaders at the underground Rivonia headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe in Johannesburg in July 1963, Mandela was brought from Robben Island prison to face trial with them on charges of sabotage. In the glare of worldwide publicity at the end of the trial, he delivered a dramatic final statement from the dock, concluding that the ideal of a democratic and free society is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Receiving a life sentence (instead of the death sentence that could have been passed), Mandela returned to Robben Island and became the worlds most famous political prisoner. Despite South African efforts to black out news about him, the world increasingly became aware of his assertive demands that the government adhere to prison regulations and his leadership of fellow inmates across the political spectrum. Transferred to Pollsmoor prison on the mainland in 1982 and then to a cottage in Victor Verster prison in 1987, Mandela became the star of a deft and media-smart campaign for unconditional release from prison. Simultaneously, he conducted secret talks with government ministers to set the stage for negotiations to achieve majority rule.

Released unconditionally from prison on February 11, 1990, by the newly elected president F. W. de Klerk, Mandela immediately assumed the leadership of the ANCs negotiations with the Nationalist Party government. Against a backdrop of rising violence, he showed repeated willingness to compromise with former opponents without abandoning the goal of nonracial constitutional democracy based on one person, one vote. In November 1993 an agreement was reached on a constitution, and in December 1993 Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Victorious at the head of the ANC ticket in the countrys first election open to all citizens, Mandela assumed the presidency of South Africa on May 10, 1994. During his five-year term, he won extraordinary respect at home and abroad for his advocacy and practice of national reconciliation. After completion of his presidency, he turned to international issues, successfully mediating ethnic strife in Burundi. He also spoke out strongly on HIV/AIDS, urging both the South African government and the international community to greater commitment. In June 2004, shortly before his eighty-sixth birthday, he announced his retirement from public life.

SEE ALSO African National Congress; Apartheid; Colonialism; Mandela, Winnie

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Johns, Sheridan, and R. Hunt Davis Jr., eds. 1991. Mandela, Tambo, and the African National Congress: The Struggle against Apartheid, 19481990. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mandela, Nelson. 1994. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Boston: Little Brown.

Sampson, Anthony. 1999. Mandela: The Authorized Biography. New York: Knopf.

Sheridan Johns

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Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (khōl-ēhlä´hlä mändā´lä), 1918–2013, South African statesman. He earned a degree (B.A., 1943) after being expelled from the University College of Fort Hare (for taking part in a student protest) and finishing his studies with the Univ. of South Africa, studied (1943–48) law at the Univ. of the Witwatersrand (but did not earn his LL.B. until 1989, from the Univ. of South Africa), and was prominent in Johannesburg's youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1952 he became ANC deputy national president, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid. After a group of peaceful demonstrators were massacred (1960) in Sharpeville, however, Mandela organized a paramilitary branch of the ANC to carry out guerrilla warfare against the white government. After being acquitted (1961) on charges of treason after a six-year trial, he was arrested (1962) and convicted first (1962) of inciting strikes and illegal travel and later (1964) of sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government. At the latter trial he was sentenced to life in prison, where he subsequently became the leading symbol of South Africa's oppressed black majority but also began (late 1980s) secret negotiations with the government.

Released in 1990 as an expression of President de Klerk's commitment to change, Mandela was elected (July, 1991) ANC president after a triumphal global tour. He represented the ANC in the turbulent negotiations that led to establishment of majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. After South Africa's first multiracial elections (1994), in which the ANC won a majority, Mandela was elected president.

Mandela's presidency was marked by his efforts to reconcile many of the various opposing sides in the long antiapartheid struggle (which were sometimes criticized by more militant blacks) and his work to establish a multiracial democracy based on the rule of law. A new constitution was adopted (1996), and moderate progress made in improving the economic situation of South Africa's blacks. Mandela served a single term, stepping down in 1999; Thabo Mbeki succeeded him. In Dec., 1999, Mandela was appointed by a group of African nations to mediate the ethnic strife in Burundi; the Arusha accords, a Tutsi-Hutu power-sharing agreement, were finalized in 2001. He also campaigned to raise awareness concerning AIDS prevention and treatment, after stepping as president.

Mandela married his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 1936?–, b. Nomzamo Winnifred Madikizela, in 1958. A social worker, she joined the ANC and was her husband's champion while he was in prison, being herself imprisoned and "banned" several times. In 1991 she was convicted in the 1988 kidnapping and beating of four young men, one of whom died, but on appeal her prison sentence was reduced to a fine. Her brief tenure (1994–95) as a deputy minister in her husband's cabinet was turbulent. The Mandelas separated in 1992 and were divorced in 1996. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela remained head of the ANC Women's League and a member of parliament, but she resigned those positions in 2003 when she was convicted on charges of theft and fraud relating to her involvement in a scheme to obtain loans for nonexistent Women's League employees. Her theft conviction was overturned and her prison sentence suspended on appeal in 2004. She returned to active participation in the ANC hierarchy in 2007, when she was elected to the party's national executive committee; she was again elected to parliament in 2009.

See his autobiography (1994) and his Conversations with Myself (2010); biographies by M. Meredith (1998), A. Sampson (1999), T. Lodge (2007), D. Turnley (2008), and D. J. Smith (2010).

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Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla

Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla (1918– ) South African statesman, president (1994–99). He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944, and for the next 20 years led the campaign of civil disobedience against South Africa's apartheid government. Following the Sharpeville Massacre (1960), Mandela formed Umkhonte We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a paramilitary wing of the ANC. In 1961, the ANC was banned. In 1962, Mandela was acquitted on charges of treason, but in 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for political offences. He spent the next 27 years in prison on Robben Island, becoming a symbol of resistance to apartheid. International sanctions forced F. W. de Klerk to begin the dismantling of apartheid. In February 1990, Mandela was released and resumed his leadership of the newly legalized ANC. In 1993, he and de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994, Mandela gained two-thirds of the popular vote in South Africa's first multiracial democratic elections. An advocate of the need for reconciliation, he made de Klerk deputy president (1994–96) in his government of national unity. In 1996, he divorced his wife, Winnie (1934– ), who was convicted of kidnapping and of being an accessory to assault. Thabo Mbeki succeeded Mandela as president.

http://www.anc.org.za/people/mandela.html; http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1993

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