Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid protester, a political leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
He was the world’s first black head of state and the first to be elected in an exclusively representative democratic referendum.
Nelson Mandela was elected president of the ANC’s Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 People’s Congress. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities in the 1956 Treason Trial and was unsuccessfully prosecuted. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the illegal Communist Party of South Africa (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protests, in 1961, in collaboration with the SACP, he co-founded the radical Umkhonto we Sizwe and led a sabotage campaign against the government.
5th December 1956 marks the day when Nelson Mandela was detained in a countrywide police plunge, which traversed to the 1956 Treason Trial. In the marathon trial, which ended only when the last 28 defendants, including Mandela, were acquitted on 29 March 1961, men and women of all races found themselves in the dock.
On 21 March 1960, at a rally in Sharpeville against the pass rules, police killed 69 unarmed people. This led to the first state of emergency in the world and the banning on 8 April of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). During the state of emergency, Nelson Mandela and his Treason Trial colleagues were among thousands detained.
He was arrested and imprisoned in 1962 and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting to overthrow the government following the Rivonia Tribunal.
During the trial, on 14th of June 1958, Mandela got married to a social worker, Winnie Madikizela. They had Zenani and Zindziswa, two daughters. In 1996, the pair divorced.
Nelson Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg days before the conclusion of the Treason Trial to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which agreed that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd calling for a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and to warn that if he did not agree, a national strike would take place against South Africa becoming a republic. Nelson Mandela went underground after he and his colleagues were convicted in the Treason Trial and began to prepare a national strike for March 29, 30 and 31.
He spent 27 years in prison, divided between Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. F. W. President In 1990, de Klerk released him, amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears about a racial civil war. The efforts to negotiate an end to apartheid led by Mandela and de Klerk led to the multiracial general election of 1994 in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became president.
Also Read, 3 Most Inspiring Global leaders of all time
Leading a large coalition government that promulgated a new constitution, Mandela stressed reconciliation between the country’s ethnic groups and set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate previous human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela’s administration maintained the liberal framework of its predecessor in the midst of its socialist values, also taking steps to encourage land reform, combat poverty and strengthen healthcare services. In the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, he served internationally as a mediator, acting as secretary-general of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
A second presidential term was denied, and he was replaced by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and concentrated on combating hunger and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Nelson Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his career. Although opponents on the right denounced him as a revolutionary terrorist and found him too eager to compromise and reconcile those on the far left with apartheid supporters, he gained international recognition for his activism. He has received over 250 prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize, and is widely regarded as a symbol of democracy and social justice. He is held in deep reverence in South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Thembu clan name, Madiba, and known as the ” Father of the Nation”
His inauguration was held in Pretoria on 10th May 1994, telecasted over a billion viewers across the globe. With over 4000 guests from all over the world, were included in the meeting such as world leaders from a broad range of regional and ideological backgrounds. Nelson Mandela headed a government of national unity governed by the ANC, which had little experience of self-governance but included representatives of the National Party and Inkatha. Under the Provisional Constitution, Inkatha and the National Party were entitled to government seats by way of winning at least 20 seats.
Following earlier agreements, both de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki were given the position of Vice President. While Mbeki was not his first choice for the job, Mandela grew to rely heavily on him during his presidency, allowing him to shape policy specifics. Nelson Mandela allowed de Klerk to maintain the presidency by moving to the presidential office in Tuynhuys, Cape Town.
At the age of 76, he endured several illnesses, and although exhibiting continued vitality, he felt isolated and lonely. He also hosted celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, and the Spice Girls, and acquaintances such as Anglo-American Harry Oppenheimer with ultra-rich businessmen. He also met with Queen Elizabeth II on his state visit to South Africa in March 1995, which earned him heavy criticism from ANC anti-capitalists.
Nelson Mandela was critical of much of the country’s media, noting that it was largely owned and controlled by middle-class whites and suggesting that despite dismantling press censorship, speaking out for press freedom, and befriending many journalists, it relied too heavily on scaremongering about abuse.