Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father
was Chief Henry Mandela. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort
Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942. He joined the
African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling
National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. He went on trial for treason in 1956-1961
and was acquitted in 1961. In June 1961, the ANC executive considered his proposal on the
use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in
Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so by the ANC. This led to the
formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five
years’ imprisonment with hard labour. On June 12, 1964, eight of the accused, including
Mandela, were sentenced to life imprisonment. From 1964 to 1982, he was incarcerated at
Robben Island Prison, off Cape Town; thereafter, he was at Pollsmoor Prison, nearby on
the mainland. In 1993 Mandela and de Klerk wrote a new constitution for South Africa.
The constitution gave black South Africans the right to vote, provided for a government
based on majority rule, and did away with black homelands that separated black South
Africans from white South Africans. For their work, Mandela and de Klerk received the
1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela accepted the award for all of the people who had worked
and suffered for peace and equal rights in South Africa. Mandela published his
autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, in 1994. In addition, his writings and speeches
were collected in No Easy Walk to Freedom. Today, Mandela is still recognized for his
work as a leader for freedom and equal rights.

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