Nelson Mandela against Apartheid Apartheid was the policy in South Africa where black citizens were discriminated and mistreated because of their race. Segregation was going on for a long time before apartheid began. In 1913, three years after the country’s independence, South Africa created a land act that forced black citizens to live in reserves, and for only white citizens to be allowed to work as sharecroppers.
On July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela was born in Mvezo, a town in South Africa. 0 years later, in 1938 the African National Party won the election for presidency under the slogan “apartheid”, officially starting the period known as apartheid (Nelson). Four years after the beginning of apartheid, Mandela joined the fight against racism and segregation in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was able to effectively influence the fight against apartheid in South Africa by keeping a balance of violent and non-violent acts, and motivating the world to act while imprisoned in jail. Nelson Mandela began working with the African National Congress to protest against apartheid and the many unjust laws that were being made.
Mandela, being a black South African citizen during apartheid, joined the anti-apartheid movement when he was in his twenties. In 1942, he joined the African National Congress, or ANC, who were the main opposition to apartheid. Although the majority of South Africans were against apartheid and supported the African National Congress. In 1950, the government banned marriages and sexual relations between black and white South Africans.
Also, the Population Registration Act of 1950 divided South Africans by race. It divided South Africans into Bantu or black Africans, Coloured or itizens of mixed race, White, and Asian, which included Indians and Pakistani (Anti-apartheid). These four groups of citizens were all given different rights, with Whites having the most and Bantu having the least. To limit contact and interactions between the different races, the government set up different public facilities for white and non-whites, kept the activity of non-white labor unions to a minimum, and did not allow for non-whites to participate in the national government.
The government of South Africa passed multiple Land Acts, which set aside 80 percent of the land in the country for the white minority. Pass Laws” were set up that required non-whites to carry documents with authorization to be in these restricted areas. These laws and other unfair laws created by the South African government led to anger and civil unrest in South Africa. Mandela helped to create the African National Congress Youth League, which protested against the government with peaceful tactics. Nelson Mandela created a group within the African National Congress called the Youth League. The Youth League found strength by gaining the support of millions or rural black citizens who had been displaced because of land acts.
They also received support from the working class of black South Africans’ who had no voice in the government and felt oppressed. In 1949, the African National Congress approved the Youth League’s tactics, and the tactics came into effect (Mandela). The Youth League used boycotts, strikes, civil-disobedience, and non-cooperation to defy the government. By varying these different nonviolent tactics, the Youth League was able to continue to surprise the government and stay one step ahead. The ANC Youth League had four main goals that they were fighting for.
The first was full citizenship, they wanted to have the same rights as everyone else and be entitled to the same treatment. The second goal was the redistribution of all the land that had been lost in the various Land Acts that the government had passed. The third goal was for the rights of trade unions, which had been suppressed by the government. Finally, the Youth League wanted free and compulsory education for all children in South Africa. Additionally to the Youth League, Mandela helped to direct the 1952 Defiance campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, which both peacefully defied the government.
Also, Mandela founded the Mandela and Tambo law firm with one of his former classmates from Fort Hare, Oliver Tambo. The two of them worked at the law firm to give free, or low cost legal counseling to any unrepresented black citizens who needed help, information, or advice. After many years of peaceful tactics and minimal advancements, Mandela began to turn to violence and sabotage. Although the original plan had been to be nonviolent, aggressive actions by the South African government caused Mandela and the ANC to change their minds.
In 1955, 150 members of the Congress of the People, which Mandela has started, were arrested on charges of high treason for saying that “South Africa belonged to all those who live in it, black and white” (biography. com). “The Promotion of Bantu SelfGovernment Act of 1959 created 10 Bantu homelands known as Bantustans” (Apartheid), which made the possibility of black citizens uniting to form their own government impossible, and allowed the government to claim that their was a white majority.
Starting in 1961 and continuing on for the next 33 years, 3. 5 million black citizens were evicted from their homes and sent to Bantustans, where they deteriorated under inhumane conditions and extreme poverty. In 1960, police opened fire on blacks who walked to a police station whiteout authorization passes as an act of resistance. 67 black citizens were killed, and 180 more were wounded (Mandela). Black citizens were furious with the government for the slaughter of innocent lives, and demanded the African National Congress to take action.
After this incident, the African National Congress leaders decided that their nonviolent tactics weren’t working, and that they needed to adopt a military wing. In 1961, Mandela helped to fund the Umkhonto we Sizwe, also known as the Spear of the Nation, or the MK (Apartheid). This was the armed branch of the ANC, although they did not have enough power to pose as a serious threat to the South African government. Since they new they would be easily defeated, they instead focused on acts of sabotage and guerrilla war tactics. However, not everyone supported the use of violence against the government.
Some of the more peaceful and conservative black tribes did not support the use of violence. Also, some citizens were afraid that the use of violence would encourage the white population to view blacks as savages and a race that was lesser than them. Other South African citizens were afraid that the violence could escalate to mass massacres, are even worse, a civil war. With peaceful protests they had been able to gain the support and cooperation of millions of citizens, but with sabotage and guerrilla war, much fewer citizens were willing to participate in these actions (Mandela).
Mandela continued to organize both violent and nonviolent acts of rebellion, and the combination of the two helped Mandela to be successful in defying apartheid and the South African government. After Mandela was arrested, he was treated brutally in jail, which lead to international outrage. In 1961, Nelson Mandela organized a national worker’ strike that lasted for three full days. About a year later, he was arrested for leading this strike, and was sentenced in court to five years in prison.
Then, in 1963 he and 10 other African National Congress leaders were sentenced to life in prison for sabotage. Mandela spent 18 years at Robben Island Prison, where he got tuberculosis. Since he was a black South African, we was treated very poorly in prison. While in prison, many people were protesting and demanding the release of Nelson Mandela. To silence these people, the government tried to assassinate Mandela by faking a failed escape for him and then shooting him (Brand). Before this could be carried through, British intelligence found out, and were able to stop the assassination.
This action, though, brought about international support and outrage against the South African government. In 1973, the United Nations General Assembly denounced apartheid. Since Mandela had become a figurehead for equality in South Africa, he was able to greatly influence international support for the end of apartheid. Eventually, an international campaign was launched to free Mandela from prison. Then, in 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison. The government moved him so that they could talk and negotiate with Mandela.
The South African president, P. W. Botha, wanted Mandela to ask rebels so stop their armed struggle and go back to peaceful protesting in exchange for his freedom. Instead of complying with the president, Mandela flatly refused the offer, and continued to be imprisoned. The government tried to make minor reforms, including getting rid of the ban on interracial relationships. These reforms did not ease the protesting and anger of the world. The United States and United Kingdom decided to impose sanctions on the South African economy in 1985 (Carlin).
In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Finally, in 1994, apartheid in South Africa ended, which Mandela played a key role in. Throughout his life, Mandela was able to influence the fight against apartheid in different ways. Apartheid was the segregation in South Africa of black and white citizens that began in 1948. Nelson Mandela was a leader in the antiapartheid movement, and gained support with his nonviolent ways and being imprisoned for 27 years (Nelson). Nelson Mandela became famous worldwide for his peaceful protests and being in prison for so long.
Once apartheid ended, Nelson Mandela was voted the first black president of South Africa. This not only positively impacted South Africa, but was a major improvement for racism and segregation worldwide, helping the world to realize that skin color should not be a factor in how people are treated or how a government is run. Although many great peaceful leaders have achieved success by staying true to their strategy, Mandela was forced to act differently due to his circumstances, yet still succeeded again and again and again.