Nelson MandelaNelson Rolihlahla Mandela is judged to be one of the greatest politicalleaders of modern times. Among his many accomplishments are the 1993 NobelPeace Prize for his dedication to the fight against racial oppression in SouthAfrica and establishing democracy there and becoming the president of SouthAfrica in 1994 following their first multiracial elections.Nelson was born as the foster son of a Thembu chief in Umtata (now theprovince of Eastern Cape) and raised in a traditional tribal culture within thegrips of apartheid, a powerful system of black oppression that existed in SouthAfrica.After years as a poor student and law clerk in Johannesburg, heassumed an important role in the African National Congress (ANC), a civil rightsgroup. He also helped form the ANC Youth League in the 1950’s. He was accusedof treason in 1956 but was acquitted in 1961.
From 1960-1962 Mandela led the NAC’s para military wing known asUmkhonto we Sizwe which translate to “Spear of the Nation.” He was arrested inAugust of 1962, sentenced to five years in prison and while incarcerated wasagain convicted of sabotage and treason and was sentenced to life imprisonmentin june, 1964 at the famous Rivonia Trial. During his twenty-seven years inprison, Nelson Mandela became a symbol of resistance to the white-dominatedcountry of South Africa throughout the world.After complex negotiation,Mandela was finally released from prison by President F.
W. deKlerk in February,1990, after lifting the long ban on the ANC.Mandela’s release from prison marked the beginning of the end ofapartheid in South Africa when he once again became the head of the ANC. Hebegan the process to from a new constitution in South Africa which would allowpolitical power to the black majority. Finally in 1991 the South Africangovernment repealed the laws that had upheld apartheid. In May, 1994 NelsonMandela became South Africa’s first black president after the country’s firstmultiracial elections were held. His goal was to provide for economic andsocial growth for the black majority that had been oppressed for so long by thesystem of apartheid.Nelson Mandela continues to inspire people everywhere.
He is viewed asa vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. He stands forthe triumph of dignity and hope over despair and hatred and of love overpersecution and hatred. At age seventy-eight he still remains a major politicalfigure in South Africa where he enjoys his twenty-one grandchildren and threegreat-grandchildren.