Nelson Mandela, who was also known as Rolihlahla Mandela, was born on 18th July 1918 into the Madiba clan in Mvezo village in Eastern Cape. His father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, while his mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni. His father died in 1930 when Mandela was 12 years old, and he became a ward of Jongintaba in Mqhekezweni at a great place (Nelson, Kadir). On hearing the narratives of his ancestors from the elders about their valor in the resistance wars, he also dreamed of contributing to the freedom struggle of his people. He attended a primary school in Qunu, whereby Miss Mdingane, his teacher, named him Nelson in accord with the custom of naming all schoolchildren Christian names (Nelson, Kadir).
He attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute, where he completed his junior certificate and joined Healdtown, a secondary school of Wesley, where he matriculated. Mandela later joined the university college of Fort Hare, where he studied for a bachelor of arts degree however did not complete it since he was expelled because of joining a student protest (Nelson, Kadir). After returning to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni, the King became furious and promised to arrange wives for him as well as his cousin Justice if he did not return to Fort Hare. They instead ran to Johannesburg and arrived there in 1941 (Nelson, Kadir). It was in Johannesburg where Mandela was employed to work as a mine security officer first, and later, he met an estate agent known as Walter Sisulu, who introduced him to Lazer Sidelsky.
Mandela then started doing his articles through a firm of attorneys that consisted of Sidelsky, Witkin, and Eidelman. He completed his Bachelors of art at the University of South Africa however went for his graduation at Fort Hare in 1943 (Nelson, Kadir). Mandela then began studying at the University of Witwatersrand, where due to his state of being a poor student, he left the university without graduating in 1952. In 1942 however, he had started being increasingly involved in politics such that by 1944, he had joined the African and helped in the formation of the influential African National Congress Youth League (Nelson, Kadir). It was in the same year, 1944, that Mandela married Evelyn Mase, a cousin to Walter Sisulu, who was a nurse. They managed to have two sons Makgatho and Thembekile, and two daughters who were both named Makaziwe. The first daughter, however, died during infancy. Mandela divorced Mase in 1958.
In 1949, Mandela rose by the ranks and ended efforts of the ANCYL, and the ANC employed a more radical mass-based policy known as the program of action (Nelson, Kadir). Mandela was then elected as the National Volunteer-in-chief of the defiance campaign where Maulvi Cachalia was chosen as his deputy (Freund, Bill, 293). The campaign was of civil disobedience in contrast to six unfair laws and was a joint program between the South African Indian Congress and the African National Congress. As a result, Mandela and 19 other individuals were taken to court and charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for getting involved in the campaign. They were also sentenced to prison for nine months of hard labor and suspended for two years from attending gatherings or even leaving Johannesburg (Soudien, Crain, 171). Mandela then went back to college, where he pursued a two-year diploma in law, which adds to his bachelor’s degree, enabled him to exercise law. This enabled him and Oliver Tambo to establish the first black law firm in South African in August 1952, known as Mandela & Tambo. He was then banned for the first time at the end of 1952, and the only freedom that he had was to only watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was being adopted on 26th June 1955 in Kliptown.
On 5th December 1956, Mandela was arrested in a police swoop that was carried out across the country, and this led to the 1956 treason trial. During that year, men and women from all races were in the dock within the marathon trial, in which in the end only 28 individuals were accused, including Mandela, and on 29th March 1961, they were all acquitted (Nelson, Kadir). On 21st March, people held protests against the pass laws in Sharpeville, and during the protests, the police killed 69 unarmed protesters, an incident that led to the first state of emergency in South Africa and was. On 8th April, the Pan Africanist Congress and the African National Congress were banned. During the state of emergency, Mandela and his colleagues from the Treason Trial were among the thousands of individuals who had been detained. On 14th June 1958, while Mandela was still on trial, married Winnie Madikizela, a social worker with whom they had two daughters Zindziswa and Zenani. However, they divorced later in 1996 (Nelson, Kadir). Before the Treason Trial was over, Mandela went to Pietermaritzburg with the aim of speaking at the All-in Africa Conference that ended up resolving that Mandela should write a letter to the prime minister Verwoerd asking for a national convention regarding a non-racial constitution as well as warning him that if he did not agree to it, there would be a nationwide strike and protest against South Africa becoming a republic.
When Mandela and his colleagues were acquitted during the Treason Trial, he started maintaining a low profile and started planning on a national strike that was to take place on 29th, 30th, and 31st March that year. As a result of the massive mobilization by state security, the strike was called off. Mandela was asked to lead the armed struggle in June 1961 and in helping the spear of the Nation that was launched on 16th December 1961 with a number of explosions. Mandela freed the country secretly on 11th January 1962, using a fake name David Motsamayi.
He traveled across Africa and also went to England with the aim of asking for help and support for the armed struggle. In Morocco and Ethiopia, Mandela received military training, and later in July 1962, he returned to South Africa. On 5th August, he was arrested at a police roadblock that was based outside Howick as he was returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had gone to brief the president of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli, concerning his trip (Nelson, Kadir). He was charged with inciting workers to strike and for leaving the country without a permit. This led to him being sentenced to five-years imprisonment that started by serving at the Pretoria Local Prison.
He was later transferred to Robben Island on 27th May 1963, and then on 12th June, he was returned to Pretoria. In a month, the police raided a secret hideout in Rivonia that the communist party activists and the ANC members used, and in the process, some of his comrades were arrested. Mandela then joined ten others on 9th October 1963 on trial for sabotage, which was later known as the Rivonia Trial. Here Mandela faced the death penalty, and at the end of his famous speech from the dock, he wrote some words to the court on 20th April 1964, which became immortalized (Nelson, Kadir). In the speech, Mandela offered a statement in his trial in Pretoria that showed of the depth of his determination in the fight contrary to apartheid as well as his readiness to lay down his life only to end white discriminatory rule. He wrote, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Nelson, Kadir). On 11th June 1964, he and seven others were found guilty, and on the following day, they were penalized with a life imprisonment. Mandela was taken to a hospital on 12th August 1988, where he was found to be suffering from tuberculosis.
He spent over three months in two hospitals, and on 7th December 1988, he was transferred to a house at Victor Verster prison where he spent his last fourteen months of imprisonment. Mandela was later released on 11th February 1990, only nine days after the PAC and the ANC were unbanned and almost four months after all his remaining Rivonia comrades were released. During his imprisonment, Mandela rejected at least three conditional offers for his release. Mandela marched out of South Africa’s Victor Verster prison near Cape Town after being in captivity for 27 years as he held hands with his wife, Winnie. He came out with his fist held up and a broad smile on his face. His release after so long was almost unthinkable for feverishly happy cohorts who exploded in cheers as hundreds of reporters pressed forward. The globe watched the captivating event live on television. Due to Mandela’s two decade-long imprisonment, only few people who knew what he looked like or had seen a current photo. Mandela said he was astonished by the welcome. After he was released, Mandela immersed himself in official talks that were aimed at deciding how the white minority rule was to end. In 19991, he was elected as the president of the African National Congress to replace Oliver Tambo, his ailing friend.
In 1993, Mandela and president FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly, and it was on 27th April 1994 that he managed to vote for the first time in his life. On 10th May 1994, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first South African, democratically elected president. He became the first South African black president after democratic elections, he took the oath of office at the South African capital at the Union Buildings in Pretoria (Yadav, Arvind Kumar, 63). Leaders and other luminaries from across the globe attended the historic event, which offered most South Africans a second chance to have a good time in the streets.
On 8th June 2013, the government announced that Mandela had been admitted to a hospital with a recalling lung infection, which resulted in his death on 5th December 2013 at his home in Johannesburg. Mandela never swayed back and forth in his devotion to learning, democracy, and equality. Irrespective of all the terrible provocations that he received, Nelson Mandela never answered racism with racism (Mandela, Nelson, and Frederik Willem De Klerk). His life inspires all those who are deprived and oppressed as well as all those who are opposed to deprivation and oppression.
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