us and world history Essay

Submitted By krissy15213
Words: 1213
Pages: 5

Nelson Mandela was a symbol of justice, peace and democracy. He created a significant social and political change by fighting for democratic elections among South Africans, protesting against apartheid, and eventually becoming the first black president in South Africa. In the beginning as a member of the African National Council, a civil rights organization, he attempted to overcome apartheid by means of peaceful methods. He orchestrated a very successful nation-wide stay-at-home strike. He was arrested for the strike and realized that nonviolent acts were not enough to force out the apartheid regime. This realizations sparked the consideration of organized violence. He publicly declared police as an enemy during one of his speeches which started the period of violence that would ultimately lead him to a 27 year prison sentence. Mandela was wholeheartedly dedicated to the freedom movement, he sacrificed his family, his professional and political life and went underground for almost two years organizing violent acts against the government to cause change. The human rights struggle among Africans became his life struggle and he wasn’t going to stop fighting until the end. He was prepared to start “a bloody civil war” (Sohail, 2005).
On August 5, 1962, Mandela was caught by police and he knew his journey was over. He decided that he would use every opportunity with the court to make a political statement. At his first hearing he dressed in traditional clothing to emphasize that he was a black man in a white man’s courtroom. Mandela and his partners were charged with sabotage and violent revolutions targeted at overturning the government in October 1963 in “the most significant political trial in the history of south Africa” (Sohail, 2005). While he was in prison innocent civilians were being killed as the military struggle intensified. Mandela was made aware of the killings and justified their actions, stating that they were a response to oppressive government regime. Over the years the violent actions continued and Mandela realized that his army didn’t have enough power to overtake the government, which led him to a strategy change of readiness for negotiation. On June 12, 1986, the government appointed a state of emergency in hopes to stop the protests. For the rest of his term, Mandela held secret meetings negotiating with the government. He reassured the white people that South Africa belonged to both blacks and whites and the blacks didn’t want to kill or force the whites out of the country. In 1989, President F.W. de Klerk came into office and agreed to reform and change. (Sohail, 2005)
Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990, shortly after, democratic transfer of power was given to the black majority. Mandela never took back his commitment to violent acts, he had even used them as a threat to accelerate negotiations. Not only was Mandela negotiating with the whites, he also had to attempt to negotiate peace with his own people. South Africa was on the verge of a civil war with themselves. Mandela pleaded to a crowd of over 100,000 people to stop the war now and throw their guns into the sea, but his people were not interested. Violence in South Africa was worsening and the death toll kept rising. Mandela took a major step and signed an agreement to suspend armed struggle, it didn’t help. He even considered restarting the armed struggle if the violence didn’t subside. Finally on June 3, 1993, Mandela and President de Klerk set a date “for national, non-racial, one-person-one-vote elections and to start a new chapter in South African history” (Sohail, 2005). On May 2nd President de Klerk made a speech turning over power to the black majority. This action led Mandela and de Klerk to being awarded the Nobel peace prize, which was a shock to everyone including Mandela, especially considering he was the one who started the violent struggle to begin with. Mandela’s dream of walking the