- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Celebrated Statesman
- Official Title: Former President
- Government: Well-established democracy
- Years Left in Office: Retired
- Political Classification: Center-left
- Education: BA, MS in Law
- Born: July 18, 1918
- Died: December 5, 2013
Nelson Mandela Facts and Information
- First democratically elected black president of free South Africa
- Winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for his part in abolishing the South African apartheid and peaceful transition afterwards
- Spent 27 years in prison for his involvement in the antiapartheid movement
- Is world renown for being a human rights advocate
- Has an international day in his honor…Nelson Mandela International Day (July 18)
Nelson Mandela….the unifying “peace” to the South African puzzle. He’s commonly known for his role as the first black president of South Africa and his huge role in ending the South African apartheid. This is the man with a plan for worldwide peace. He was a member of the African National Congress who became the poster child for the ANC and the entire anti-apartheid movement. He is a liberal lefty who believes in anti-violence and a world that is not separated by skin color.
Nelson Mandela became a member of the ANC in 1943 and has been globally associated with the group ever since. The ANC began in 1912 in response to the South African injustice to blacks. ANC members fought against the mistreatment of black Africans by the government. Members of the ANC worked for a democracy that was not based on race. Although mistreatment of blacks occurred for many years, 1948 marked the official enactment of apartheid laws.
Weird side note: The African National Congress was actually considered to be a terrorist group amongst many countries. It wasn’t until 2008 that Nelson Mandela and the rest of the ANC were removed from the United States terrorist threat list. By being placed on this list, any member of the ANC was immediately flagged upon request to visit the United States and had to receive special permission to enter the country. Looking at all of the terroristic threats the united states has had in the past, it’s a little strange that we saw Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to be a possible threat to our country. Not to mention, the United States has had positive relations with South Africa since long before 2008.
Anyways, back to business. So what exactly are apartheid laws? In South Africa specifically, the apartheid started up in 1948 when the National Party, an all white political group, gained power. The apartheid laws were put into place in an effort to make life for African Americans especially difficult. Apartheid laws affected every aspect of African American life. Ranging from marriage laws banning whites and “non-whites” to marry and employment laws deeming most jobs “white only” jobs, apartheid laws institutionalized segregation throughout the country.
In 1952 Mandela and his partner, Tambo opened the first black law firm in South Africa. Their firm provided free and low cost legal services to African Americans affected by the apartheid. In addition, Mandela took part in many anti-apartheid movements including protests that really made him stand out. Although everyone involved in the ANC and the anti-apartheid movement pissed off the National Party, Nelson Mandela was seen as the ultimate pain in the ass. They kept a close watch on Mandela and realized that many times there was an anti-apartheid movement in action Mandela was the man behind it.
With the National Party in charge, Mandela’s involvement in protests and desire to end segregation was seen as treason. While many people were against the apartheid, Mandela made his voice known and this really pissed off the National Party. Mandela wasn’t just an activist for the antiapartheid movement, but actually became the symbol of the movement all together. He gave people hope that there would be an end to the segregation and gave people a reason to fight for their freedom. His part in a physical uprising against the National Party is what landed him 27 years in prison. What the hell? I thought this man was all about non-violence, now you’re saying he spent time in jail for being violent? After a horrible massacre of black South Africans by government police and the banning of the ANC in 1960, Mandela gave up his views on nonviolence and began encouraging an uprising against the South African government. In fact, he became one of the founders of the military of the ANC, known as Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Man, if you were a member of the Nationalist Party, chances are you really hated this dude. He was causing all kinds of trouble for them: leading protests, getting citizens involved in anti-apartheid movements and NOW he’s becoming violent? What better way to shut him up than throw him in jail, right? Wrong!! Mandela used his time in prison to earn his bachelor of law degree and encouraged his fellow inmates to seek equality through nonviolent opposition (after spending some time in prison, I’m assuming he decided violence really wasn’t the way to go). I guess there really was no way to shut him up after all.
Following his 1990 release from prison, Mandela became the president of the ANC in 1991. It was only appropriate considering that he was the global symbol for the whole group anyways. With Mandela leading the ANC and his name being so commonly known, it is no surprise that Mandela won South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994. I’m sure being a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1993) for his anti-apartheid movements and his help in creating a democratic South Africa really helped his campaign.
While in office, Mandela did a lot to eliminate social injustice and create a country of racial equality. One of his first widely noted acts was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created in 1995. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to help fix the wrong doings of the apartheid. Under the TRC, Mandela desired to improve the living standards of black Africans through housing, education and economic development. Just a year following the enactment of the TRC, Mandela created a new democratic constitution for South Africa.
Being in office for only five short years, Mandela accomplished so much in so little time. He resigned in 1999 and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki of the ANC. Even in his last public office activity, he showed his awesomeness: he could have easily won another term, hell, he could have changed the constitution and remained in power forever….but he didn’t. He did not want South Africa to go the way of so many other African states by becoming a dictatorship or one-part state (see Zimbabwe, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, et al. for great examples of that). Mandela set the precedent that his country would actually be a real democracy, with real democratic transitions and a real democratic process. Just like George Washington did in the USA. Legendary actions by legendary peeps.
Today, Mandela doesn’t really make much of an impact in politics or current events, although his health consistently makes world news. While Mandela isn’t very active in politics today, his previous involvement makes him a world leader of note. In fact, he’s so important that in 2009 the United Nations declared his birthday, July 18, to be Nelson Mandela International Day. Having your own holiday in your own country is a big deal, but having an international holiday in your honor….DAMN you must be it.
So now you know why Nelson Mandela was, and is still seen as a global symbol of equality. Everyone loves Mandela because Mandela loves everyone. The Gandhi of the modern world. Okay, so maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but you get the point. He brought racial equality to South Africa and continually spreads his visions of achieving equality through nonviolence throughout the entire world.
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