Mandela, Nelson R. 1918–

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Mandela, Nelson R. 1918–

(Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela)

PERSONAL: Born 1918, in Umtata, Transkei, South Africa; son of Henry Mandela (a Tembu tribal chief); married Evelyn Ntoko (a nurse; divorced, 1958); married Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza (a social worker and political activist), June 14, 1958 (divorced, 1996); married Graca Machel (an academic, attorney, and former Mozambican first lady), July 19, 1998; children: (first marriage) Makgatho (deceased), Thembi (deceased), Makaziwe Phumla Mandela; (second marriage) Zenani (married to Prince Thumbumuzi Dhlamini of Swaziland), Zindziswa. Ethnicity: "Black." Education: Attended University College of Fort Hare and Witwatersrand University; University of South Africa, law degree, 1942.

ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Nelson Mandela Foundation, Private Bat X 70 000, Houghton 2041, South Africa.

CAREER: Mandela & Tambo (law firm), Johannesburg, South Africa, partner, 1952–c. 1960; political organizer and leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Johannesburg, 1944–, held successive posts as secretary and president of the Congress Youth League, deputy national president of the ANC, and commander of the Umkonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation") paramilitary organization; 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, including Robben Island and Pollsmoor prisons, South Africa, 1962–90; elected president of African National Congress, 1991–; president of South Africa, 1994–99.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary doctor of law degrees, National University of Lesotho, 1979, and City College of the City University of New York, 1983; Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, government of India, 1980; Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights, government of Austria, 1981; named honorary citizen of Glasgow, Scotland, 1981, and Rome, Italy, 1983; Simon Bolivar International Prize, UNESCO, 1983; Litt.D., University of Calcutta, 1986; Nobel Peace Prize nomination, 1987; Human Rights Prize, European Parliament, 1988; Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, 1989; L.L.B., University of South Africa, 1989; Human Rights Award, American Jewish Committee, 1993; Nobel Peace Prize, 1993; made an honorary Canadian citizen, 2001; named to Order of St. John; Presidential Medal of Freedom.


No Easy Walk to Freedom, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1965.

Nelson Mandela Speaks: Speeches, Statements, and Articles, African National Congress Publicity and Information Bureau (London, England), 1970.

The Struggle Is My Life, International Defence and Aid Fund (London, England), 1978, second revised and updated edition published as Nelson Mandela: The Struggle Is My Life: His Speeches and Writings Brought Together with Historical Documents and Accounts of Mandela in Prison by Fellow-Prisoners, International Defence and Aid Fund (London, England), 1990.

Nelson Mandela, Symbol of Resistance and Hope for a Free South Africa: Selected Speeches since His Release, edited by E.S. Reddy, Sterling, 1990.

Walk the Last Mile with Us: Nelson Mandela's Speeches in Ireland, Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement (Dublin, Ireland), 1990.

Nelson Mandela, Speeches 1990: "Intensify the Struggle to Abolish Apartheid," edited by Greg McCartan, photographs by Margrethe Siem, Pathfinder Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Fidel Castro) How Far We Slaves Have Come!: South Africa and Cuba in Today's World, Pathfinder Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Nelson Mandela Speaks: Forging a Democratic, Nonracial South Africa, edited by Steve Clark, Pathfinder Press (New York, NY), 1993.

A Better Life for All: Working Together for Jobs, Peace, and Freedom, ANC Department of Information and Publicity (South Africa), 1994.

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994, illustrated and abridged edition published as Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography, 1996, abridged edition published as Long Walk to Freedom with Connections: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, abridged and with notes by Richard W. Kelso, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (Austin, TX), 2000.

South and Southern Africa into the Next Century, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1997.

The Essential Nelson Mandela, compiled by Robin Malan, D. Philip Publishers (Cape Town, South Africa), 1997.

In the Words of Nelson Mandela, edited by Jennifer Crwys-Williams, Carol Publishing, 1998.

Nelson Mandela: Words of Wisdom, selected by Margaret Gee, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 2000.

(Selector) Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, Norton (New York, NY), 2002, published as Madiba Magic: Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, Tafelberg Publishers (Cape Town, South Africa), 2002, published as Favorite African Folktales, Norton (New York, NY), 2004.

In His Own Words, edited by Kader Asmal, David Chidester, and Wilmot James, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.

Nelson Mandela: From Freedom to the Future: Tributes and Speeches, edited by Kader Asmal, David Chidester, and Wilmot James, Jonathan Ball (Johannesburg, South Africa), 2003.

Author of introduction to Oliver Tambo Speaks: Preparing for Power, Braziller, 1988. Contributor to Reflections in Prison: Voices from the South African Liberation Struggle, edited by Mac Maharaj, Zebra Press/ Robben Island Museum (Cape Town, South Africa), 2001, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2002. Contributor of articles to the South African political journal Liberation, 1953–59.

SIDELIGHTS: Nelson R. Mandela is widely recognized as one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century for his successful, decades-long struggle against apartheid to become South Africa's first black president. A leader of the banned African National Congress (ANC) insurgent movement during the 1950s and 1960s, Mandela had been jailed by the white government for a quarter of a century for his efforts to enfranchise his fellow blacks. Through his leadership and personal sacrifices, Mandela has come to symbolize the struggle against apartheid, the system of enforced racial inequality that denied political rights to South Africa's black majority. Mandela's release from prison in February 1990 was followed by a triumphant world tour that included eight major cities in the United States. Strong admiration for the former political prisoner provided a common bond for many Americans who were at odds over how to defeat racial injustice. After his release, Mandela engaged in negotiations on behalf of the ANC with then-South African president F.W. de Klerk over a settlement of power that resulted in democratic-styled elections. In these elections, held in 1994, Mandela was elected President of South Africa, completing his astonishing rise to power after decades of imprisonment.

Mandela is descended from Xhosa-speaking tribal chieftains from the Transkei region of South Africa. He left his ancestral home at a young age to avoid an arranged marriage and pursued a professional career in the commercial capital of Johannesburg. Obtaining his law degree from the University of South Africa in 1942, Mandela joined the ANC two years later at the age of twenty-six and helped found the Congress Youth League (CYL) with Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and others. With Mandela as its secretary, the CYL urged its parent organization, the ANC, to abandon the strictly constitutional approach to reform that it had fruitlessly pursued with successive white minority governments since its founding in 1912 in favor of a more militant and confrontational strategy.

Under strong youth pressure, the ANC adopted a new program of action in 1949 that recognized such nonviolent—but sometimes illegal—tactics as electoral boycotts, "stay-at-homes" (general strikes), student demonstrations, and civil disobedience. In June 1952, Mandela mounted the first major test of the new ANC program by organizing the Defiance Against Unjust Laws campaign, a coordinated civil disobedience of six selected apartheid laws by a multiracial group of some eighty-six hundred volunteers. The government's violent response to the Defiance Campaign generated a backlash of popular support for the ANC that helped thrust Nelson Mandela to national prominence; it also brought him a nine-month suspended jail sentence, a two-year government "banning" order that confined him to Johannesburg and prohibited him from attending public gatherings, and an order to resign his ANC leadership posts as deputy president of the national organization, president of the Transvaal branch, and president of the CYL. Mandela refused to do so, and as a result he was obliged to conduct most of his political organizing work under the cover of his Johannesburg law partnership with Oliver Tambo and to limit his public profile to writing articles for the pro-ANC journal Liberation.

In December 1956, following a year of ANC-led mass protests against the Nationalists' proposal to create seven tiny tribal "homelands" in which to segregate South Africa's black population, the government brought charges against Mandela and 155 other antiapartheid leaders under anti-Communist and treason statutes. During most of the four-and-one-half years that the "Treason Trial" lasted, Mandela remained free on bail, continuing to work at his law office during the evenings and discreetly engaging in political activities within the limitations of a new five-year banning order leveled on him in February 1956.

In March 1960, an action occurred that marked a historical watershed in the struggle for black rights in South Africa. Responding to a demonstration against "pass laws," which required black South Africans to carry government identification documents, the police in the Johannesburg suburb of Sharpeville turned their weapons on a group of unarmed protesters, killing sixty-nine people. The massacre sparked a wave of angry new protests and public pass-book burnings, to which the South African government responded by declaring a state of national emergency. The government banned the ANC and detained some eighteen hundred political activists without charges, including Mandela and the other "Treason Trial" defendants. This crackdown prompted the trial lawyers to withdraw from the case, declaring that the emergency restrictions prevented them from mounting an effective defense, and left Mandela, Duma Nokwe, Walter Sisulu, and several others to represent their sizable group of ANC leaders.

As an advocate for his group, Mandela distinguished himself with his legal ability and eloquent statements of the ANC's political and social philosophy. He defended the 1949 Programme of Action and the Defiance Campaign as necessary disruptive tactics when the government was indifferent to legal pressure; he also sought to assuage white fears of a black political takeover by insisting that the ANC's form of nationalism recognized the right of all South African racial groups to enjoy political freedom and nondiscrimination together in the same country. In a unique legal victory for South African black activists, the trial judge acquitted all the defendants for insufficient evidence in March, 1961, finding that the ANC did not have a policy of violence.

Among those anxiously awaiting the verdict was Nomzamo Winnie Madikileza, who had married Mandela during the early stages of the trial. The government's ban of the ANC meant an end to any normal home life for the Mandelas, however. Immediately after his release, Mandela went underground to avoid new government banning orders. He surfaced in late March to deliver the keynote speech at the All-In African Conference held in Pietermaritzburg, which had been organized by the ANC and other opposition political organizations to address the Nationalists' plan to declare a racialist South African republic in May of that year. The All-In Conference opposed this proposal with a demand that the government hold elections for a fully representative national convention empowered to draft a new and democratic constitution for all South Africans. Meeting no response to the assembly's demands from the H.F. Verwoerd government, Mandela helped organize a three-day general strike for the end of May to press for the convention. Verwoerd's security forces mobilized heavily against the strike by suspending civil liberties, making massive preemptive arrests, and deploying heavy military equipment, which succeeded in limiting public support for the action (although hundreds of thousands of Africans nationwide still stayed away from work).

Facing arrest, Mandela once again disappeared underground, this time for seventeen months, assuming numerous disguises in a cat-and-mouse game with the police during which he became popularly known as the "Black Pimpernel." The ANC leader was finally captured, disguised as a chauffeur in the province of Natal by police acting on an informer's tip in August 1962. Brought to trial in October on charges of inciting Africans to strike and leaving the country without a valid travel document, Mandela turned his defense into an indictment of the apartheid system. In an eloquent statement to the presiding judge, the ANC leader rejected the right of the court to hear the case on the grounds that—as a black man—he could not be given a fair trial under a judicial system intended to enforce white domination, and, furthermore, that he considered himself neither legally nor morally bound to obey laws created by a parliament in which he had no representation. Despite his impressive courtroom performance, Mandela was convicted of both charges and sentenced to five years in prison.

Unknown to the authorities at the time of his trial, Mandela and other ANC leaders had reluctantly decided to launch an underground paramilitary movement in 1961 for the first time in the ANC's history. In November 1961, Mandela helped organize and assumed command of the Umkonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation") guerrilla organization and began planning a sabotage campaign directed against government installations and the economic infrastructure. Umkonto's first military action occurred on December 16, 1961, when the organization simultaneously attacked government buildings in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Durban. The group went on to engage in many more acts of sabotage over the next year while Mandela traveled surreptitiously to England, Ethiopia, Algeria, and other African countries to meet political leaders, seek arms for the movement, and undergo military training.

Mandela's role in leading Umkonto came to light in June 1963, when police raided the ANC's underground headquarters in the Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia and discovered documents relating to the armed movement. Nine top ANC leaders were arrested and brought to trial in early 1964 on charges of committing sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government by revolution with the help of foreign troops. Mandela once again conducted his own defense, using the courtroom as a platform to explain and justify the ANC's turn to armed struggle and to condemn the apartheid regime. Mandela declared at the trial: "It would be unrealistic and wrong for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the Government met our peaceful demands with force." He fully acknowledged helping to found Umkonto and planning acts of sabotage, but he denied the government's contention that the ANC and Umkonto intended to subject the antiapartheid struggle to revolutionary control, either foreign or domestic.

While he acknowledged being strongly influenced by Marxist thought, Mandela denied ever having been a member of the Communist party, insisting that he held a deep and abiding admiration for Western legal and political institutions and wished to "borrow the best from both East and West" to reshape South African society. As elaborated in the ANC's Freedom Charter (a 1955 manifesto that Mandela helped to draft that remains the basic statement of the group's political purpose), the ANC looked forward to a democratic, pluralist society with certain mildly socialistic reforms—including land redistribution, nationalization of the country's mines, and a progressive tax and incomes policy—intended to dilute the economic power of the white minority and raise the country's black majority out of poverty.

Mandela's trial ended in June 1964, when he and eight other defendants were convicted of sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. Confined to the Robben Island fortress for political prisoners seven miles offshore from Cape Town, the ANC leaders were kept rigidly isolated from the outside world. They were denied access to radio, television, and newspapers, and prohibited from publishing articles, giving public interviews, or even discussing politics with visitors. All Mandela's past speeches and published works were banned, and merely possessing his writings in South Africa was made a criminal offense. Despite these restrictions, two book-length collections of Mandela's best known political statements were published abroad and were circulated widely among South African antiapartheid activists.

No Easy Walk to Freedom, published in 1965, includes Mandela's 1953 presidential address to the Transvaal province ANC (in which he discusses the Defiance Campaign), his speech at the 1961 All-In African Conference, and excerpts from his testimony at his three political trials. A second collection, The Struggle Is My Life, contains material from 1944 to 1985, including four prison statements from Mandela; and a revised 1986 edition of the title incorporates the memoirs of two of Mandela's fellow prisoners from Robben Island prison who had been released. Six speeches made by Mandela between February and May 1990, during his first months of freedom, are collected in Nelson Mandela, Speeches 1990: "Intensify the Struggle to Abolish Apartheid." Published in 1990, the volume also includes Mandela's 1989 letter to South African president P.W. Botha stressing the need for negotiations between the government and the ANC.

Shortly after her husband's 1962 conviction, Winnie Mandela received her first government banning order restricting her to Johannesburg and preventing her from attending public or private meetings of any kind. In 1965 the government forced her out of her job with the Child Welfare Society by further restricting her to her home township of Orlando West and preventing her from engaging in essential fieldwork elsewhere in the Soweto district. She was then fired from a succession of low-paying jobs in the white commercial district after the security police pressured her employers, and she finally found herself reduced to supporting her two young daughters on the charity of friends and political associates. Despite this hardship, Winnie Mandela continued to work surreptitiously with the ANC during the 1960s by helping produce banned political pamphlets and newsletters in her home. During this period, the suspicious police ransacked the Mandela house repeatedly, but prosecutors could never find enough evidence to bring a court case against her.

In May 1969, however, Winnie Mandela was arrested with other suspected ANC sympathizers under a new law that allowed the government to detain "terrorist" suspects indefinitely without charges. Taken to Pretoria Prison, she was interrogated virtually nonstop for five days and nights about her supposed links to ANC saboteurs. She was then jailed without charges for seventeen months, spending the first two hundred days of this period incommunicado and in solitary confinement. Finally, under pressure from Nelson Mandela's lawyers, the authorities improved Winnie's confinement conditions and brought her to trial on twenty-one political charges in September 1970. The trial judge dismissed the case against her and all but one of her codefendants for insufficient evidence, and Winnie Mandela was released that month.

Though freed from prison, Winnie Mandela was still subjected to close police vigilance in the early 1970s as South Africa's white minority government reacted to new challenges from a growing world anti-apartheid movement and the anti-colonial wars in nearby Mozambique and Angola. Immediately upon her release, she was placed under a new five-year banning order that confined her to her home during the evenings and on weekends. She was subjected to frequent police home searches in ensuing years and was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison for talking to another banned person in 1974. The authorities eventually allowed her banning order to expire in October, 1975, and over the next ten months she was able to enjoy the rights of free association and movement for the first time in many years.

This period of relative freedom for Winnie Mandela coincided with the birth of a militant "Black Consciousness" youth movement led by Stephen Biko and other students in Soweto. The student revolt had as its immediate aim the annulment of the Bantu Education Act, which consigned blacks to inferior education and obliged them to learn Afrikaans, the language of South African whites of Dutch descent, instead of English. When police shot down a number of unarmed demonstrators in Soweto in June 1976, however, the township's youth erupted in a fury of uncontrolled rioting and clashes with the security forces that left at least six hundred people dead. Many of the participants in the Soweto uprising who escaped being killed or imprisoned fled the country and made contact with ANC exile headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. This militant young cadre helped to radicalize the Congress and substantially strengthen its military wing, allowing the ANC to reestablish both a political and military presence inside South Africa by the end of the decade.

The ebb in the popular struggle after the Soweto uprising lasted until 1984, when the townships exploded again over the adoption of a new South African constitution that gave parliamentary representation to "Coloureds" and Indians but not to blacks. The townships remained in a state of near-continuous political turmoil in succeeding years as anti-government youth clashed violently with the security forces and other blacks accused of collaborating with the regime. But, unlike the situation a decade earlier, when the township civilians stood unorganized and alone against the apartheid government, a number of powerful social and political forces joined the fray in the mid-1980s to mount the greatest challenge to white minority rule in South African history. The United Democratic Front (UDF), a coalition of some 680 anti-apartheid organizations that supported the political line of the ANC, organized large street demonstrations by township squatters facing eviction, protests that were harshly repressed by the government in 1985. Meanwhile, the ANC itself stepped up its guerrilla campaign in South Africa and began targeting white residential areas and causing civilian casualties for the first time. The Nationalist government of Botha also came under mounting attack from abroad as the United States and other Western countries imposed limited trade and investment sanctions on South Africa in a bid to force reform. Finally, in 1987, the one-million-strong black trade union movement began to flex its powerful muscles with strikes by workers in the strategic transport and mining sectors.

A common demand voiced throughout the previous decade by the diverse forces seeking to change the apartheid system was that Nelson Mandela be released immediately. In 1985, Winnie Mandela managed to break her government restrictions and return to Soweto to join the fight for her husband's freedom (this turn of events occurred after her Brandfort house was fire-bombed and burned to the ground in August of that year while she was in Johannesburg for medical treatment). Accusing the security police of the attack and saying that she feared for her life, Winnie Mandela insisted on moving back to her Soweto house; amid much local and international publicity, the Botha government permitted her to do so. In succeeding months, Winnie Mandela took advantage of the government's weakened position to openly flout her banning orders by giving press interviews and speaking out militantly at public demonstrations and at the funerals of young township victims of government repression.

Speaking at a funeral on a return visit to Brandfort in April 1986, for example, Winnie Mandela denounced the authorities as "terrorists" and called on blacks to take "direct action" against the government to free the imprisoned nationalist leaders. "The time has come where we must show that we are disciplined and trained warriors," she added in what some observers interpreted as a call to insurrection. In a bid to improve its international image and deflect criticism of a new state of emergency it had imposed the previous month, in July 1986 the Botha regime chose not to prosecute Winnie Mandela and instead lifted all banning restrictions on her. Among Winnie Mandela's first public actions once her right to free speech had been restored was to call for international economic sanctions against the apartheid government.

The Botha government met the current crisis with a "divide and rule" strategy combining harsh repression and isolated reforms that did not fundamentally alter the structure of apartheid. While repealing such symbols of apartheid as pass laws and long-standing bans on interracial sex and marriage, the government violently crushed the township uprisings and detained tens of thousands of anti-apartheid protesters without trial under sweeping state-of-emergency powers. Fearing the popular reaction if Mandela were to die in prison, previous South African governments sought to find a way to free him as early as 1973, but the confined ANC leader had always rejected conditions that he accept exile abroad or in the Transkei "homeland" and that he renounce violence by the insurgent organization. In late 1987, the Botha regime began hinting at the possibility that it might finally release Nelson Mandela unconditionally in an attempt to mollify domestic and international public opinion. The advisability of releasing the ANC leader in terms of domestic politics reportedly stimulated a hot debate in the Botha cabinet, with those in favor of the move arguing that Mandela was now more conservative than much of the current ANC leadership and could therefore effect a split in the organization. Detractors contended that freeing South Africa's best-known political prisoner could further alienate hard-line whites and possibly stimulate a black insurrection. Reform-minded South Africans, on the other hand, believed Mandela was the only political leader prestigious enough to win the confidence of both liberal whites and the increasingly alienated black township youth, thereby delivering the country from the specter of race war.

In November 1987, the authorities unconditionally freed Mandela's longtime comrade-in-arms Govan Mbeki (a top ANC and South African Communist party leader who was convicted at the Rivonia Trial and served twenty-four years on Robben Island), as a way of testing the political waters for Mandela's possible release. In August 1988, Mandela was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and the announcement prompted a new round of demands from the international community that he should be set free. The next year brought the release of Walter Sisulu—considered by some to be the second most important figure in South Africa's fight against apartheid—along with the rest of the Rivonia prisoners with the exception of Mandela himself. South African president de Klerk, who succeeded Botha in 1989, came into power on a reform platform; with the Rivonia amnesties, de Klerk initiated the first conciliatory measures which soon included unconditional freedom for Mandela and the lifting of the ban on the ANC. The government had delayed Mandela's pardon with the stipulation that he formally renounce violence, but it finally relented, granting his freedom on February 11, 1990.

Embarking on a thirteen-country tour from June to July 1990, Mandela was received in the United States as a hero. His mission, however, was political; he wanted both assurances from governments that sanctions would remain in place until South Africa was committed to peaceful change and donations to revitalize the ANC. In New York City people jammed the streets to catch a glimpse of Mandela passing by in a ticker tape parade. Mandela also appeared at rallies in seven other American cities, including Boston, Miami, Detroit, and Los Angeles. In Washington, DC, President George Bush—who as vice president under Ronald Reagan had fought against the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986—agreed to keep economic sanctions in place, at least for the short term.

Upon his return to South Africa, Mandela was faced with serious obstacles which threatened to disrupt any progress he made negotiating with the government. Bloody clashes between the ANC and its backers, and Inkatha, a Zulu organization of about 1.5 million members, had been flaring up since 1987 in Natal Province. Led by Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha had been targeting the United Democratic Front, an organization comprised of Zulus who supported the ANC. While still in prison, Mandela had hoped for a reconciliation with Buthelezi, but his very release sparked two days of violence in Natal that killed fifty people. In March 1990, Mandela agreed to hold a joint rally with Buthelezi in Durban, but canceled out when the venue appeared too potentially explosive. Two weeks after the ANC announced an end to armed struggle against apartheid in August 1990, a raid by Inkatha supporters on train passengers at Soweto's Inhlazane Station resulted in a wave of violence that spread to other townships around Johannesburg, leaving more than two hundred people dead. Right-wing politicians exploited the turmoil, attempting to use the ethnic strife as proof of the limits of a black South African government. While de Klerk pressed Mandela to help quell the violence by meeting with Buthelezi, Mandela blamed Pretoria.

Black-on-black violence continued unabated, with the ANC withdrawing from talks in May 1991, after the government refused to outlaw tribal weapons carried by Inkatha party members. In the same month, Winnie Mandela was convicted of kidnapping and being an accessory to assault; she was sentenced to six years in prison. The conviction stemmed from the actions of her bodyguards, who called themselves the Mandela United Football Club, although they were not actually a sports team. In 1988, members of the club kidnapped four black youths from a hostel. The youths were purportedly taken back to Winnie Mandela's house, where they were beaten and one of the boys died. Winnie Mandela denied any involvement in the crime, stating in court she was in the Orange Free State—three hundred kilometers away—when it occurred; she has since appealed the decision. Mandela supported his wife throughout her trial. He appeared to observers to be devoted to the woman who supported him through the many years of his imprisonment with her visits and letters, who endured jail and police mistreatment on his behalf.

Mandela insisted that the negative publicity surrounding Winnie's court case had no effect on his negotiations with Pretoria. Although far from fully enfranchising the black population, the government did institute further reforms, including the repeal of the Population Registration Act in June 1991, which required every South African baby to be documented by race. Although international response was positive, the South African government was far from eradicating apartheid; blacks still did not have the right to vote. Mandela, whom political experts considered outmaneuvered by de Klerk, had become increasingly cynical of the president.

The ANC addressed their setbacks at a national conference in Durban during July 1991—the first such gathering in South Africa in thirty years. The party had been splitting between young radicals who favored a more militant approach toward immediate change, and older, conservative leaders who recommended negotiating gradually with the government. The Durban conference reaffirmed the moderate philosophy within the ANC by electing Mandela president, Walter Sisulu deputy president, and Cyril Ramaphosa secretary general. Mandela struggled to balance his group's objectives with assurances to white South Africans that the ANC did not wish to turn the country into a socialist state.

A growing distrust of de Klerk among blacks soured into seething resentment in June 1992, when about two hundred Inkatha supporters rampaged through the township of Boipatong with guns, machetes, and spears, killing at least forty people. Witnesses claimed the Zulu attackers had been assisted by the police. Rejecting calls among militant members to reengage in armed struggle, ANC leaders instead displayed their frustration with the government's inability to control the violence—and the seeming insincerity within de Klerk's National Party in negotiating a new, nonracial constitution—by withdrawing from the talks. A campaign of mass-action (boycotts, strikes, and sit-ins) was instituted while the ANC pressed Pretoria with a list of demands, including a full investigation of the Boipatong massacre. Mandela and de Klerk finally met on September 26, 1992, for the first time since May, agreeing to resume negotiations on the constitution and to accelerate efforts in forging an interim government. Several conditions laid down by the ANC for the resumption of talks were met by de Klerk, namely the erection of fences around single-sex workers' hostels (often the origination point of Inkathainspired violence), a ban on carrying tribal weapons in public, and the release of close to five hundred blacks, deemed political prisoners by the ANC. In exchange for the amnesty, the ANC agreed to a general amnesty for white governmental officials accused of crimes during the years of apartheid. One day after Mandela's summit with de Klerk, Buthelezi walked out of negotiations, angered over the deals struck between the two leaders. Buthelezi made it clear that Inkatha would not participate in post-apartheid elections, even though political experts suggested de Klerk's Nationalist Party was counting on Buthelezi's (and Inkatha's) support to bolster their showings at the polls against the ANC. De Klerk denied Buthelezi's charges of striking "illegitimate" deals and claimed the real impediment to progress was due to factionalism between the blacks.

Despite his long imprisonment and personal suffering, political setbacks and the unrelenting strife between Inkatha and the ANC, Mandela's efforts to end institutional apartheid were finally realized in June 1993, when South Africa's first free elections were announced. Scheduled for April 27, 1994, the election was agreed upon by a majority of the country's twenty-six parties as a measure to reassure blacks that change was coming. Change did indeed come, when Mandela was elected president, with the ANC capturing sixty-three percent of the popular vote.

As president Mandela worked to heal the racial divisions in South Africa; to achieve South Africa's readmittance to the world community of democratic nations; and to address the crushing poverty of the country's black citizens. Mandela succeeded in luring western private investment into South Africa, but economic progress for South Africa's poor black majority was slow, prompting some criticism of Mandela's tenure. An increased crime rate was another difficult issue facing Mandela's government. In addition to his political challenges, Mandela went through a difficult divorce with Winnie.

In his Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Mandela recounts his remarkable life, including his childhood in the Transkei region; his political beginnings in the 1940s and 1950s with the ANC; his twenty-seven-year imprisonment; and the period after his release in 1990. Reviewers greeted the book with praise, commending Mandela's lack of bitterness and thoughtful assessment of his achievements and shortcomings. Terming the book "one of the few political autobiographies that's also a page-turner," Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Chris Goodrich called the autobiography "a monumental book, one that well matches its author." Chicago Tribune Books reviewer Penelope Mesic similarly called the work "a truly wonderful autobiography, sharp, literate, unpretentious and—surprisingly—as emotionally involving as it is informative." For his long struggle on behalf of South Africa's oppressed masses and his efforts toward a peaceful transfer of power from the white minority leadership, Mandela, along with de Klerk, was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

After stepping down from the presidency in 1999, Mandela focused on human rights activism for several years, traveling the globe and speaking publicly for the cause of justice for all people. He retired from this campaign in 2004, however, settling down into a quieter retirement, with the exception of his continued work in fundraising for and increasing the public awareness of the AIDS epidemic, a disease that killed his son Makgatho. On July 23, 2004, an official ceremony was held in Johannesburg that formerly proclaimed Mandela had the freedom of the city.



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Newsmakers: 1990, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Roberts, Jack L., Nelson Mandela: Determined to Be Free, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1995.

Stefoff, Rebecca, Nelson Mandela: Hero for Democracy, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1994.

Strazzabosco, Jeanne, Learning about Forgiveness from the Life of Nelson Mandela, Rosen (New York, NY), 1996.


Black Issues Book Review, January-February, 2003, Lynda Jones, review of Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, p. 66.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 8, 1995, Chris Goodrich, review of Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, p. 3.

MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of In His Own Words.

Publishers Weekly, November 29, 2004, review of In His Own Words, p. 32.

School Library Journal, February, 2003, Susan Hepler, review of Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, p. 136.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), December 18, 1994, Penelope Mesic, review of Long Walk to Freedom, p. 1.