Nelson races. He became president of South Africa

Topic: EconomicsEconomic Concepts
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Last updated: August 21, 2019

Nelson Mandela was major political leader in the anti-apartheid movement and advocate for equality between races.

He became president of South Africa in 1994 and headed many movements to change the racial discrimination within South Africa. Nelson Mandela had a positive impact on the fight for human rights in South Africa through his presidency. Mandela’s rise in the African National Congress, his imprisonment, and the ending of end of apartheid all led to Mandela becoming the first Black African head of state in South Africa.South Africa was racially tense due to its colonization in the mid-1600s. Colonization took a different form in South Africa than it did in other societies, but it was a factor in creating a society in which there was rigid racial division.

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Africa was first permanently colonized by whites for trading purposes to the East, in 1652. With early colonization, came Christian intolerance and Africans were seen as the personification of evil (“South African”). This racial tension made its way into the next three centuries and was a factor in creating legislation that promoted discrimination.The fight against apartheid led to the rise of Nelson Mandela in politics and eventually his rise to office. Apartheid began in 1948 due to the racial intolerance of Black Africans by the Nationalist Party. The AYL (African Youth League) encouraged boycotts and sit-ins, causing racial tension between Black and White Africans within South Africa.

The Nationalist Party proposed apartheid, a policy of segregation and discrimination, and immediately put in laws to place to integrate apartheid into South Africa once it won the election (“Mandela, Nelson”). Apartheid classified all South Africans into 4 groups: White, Asian, Colored, and Native. Black groups were confined to designated areas, and permitted into White areas only for employment due to the 1950 Groups Area Act.

Black and White areas had separate schools due to the 1953 Bantu Education Act, with funding being unequal. Material deprivation coincided with race, space, and territory, as black areas were under-resourced and housing, welfare, health, and employment opportunities being unequally distributed. Political Power was left under White control, with Black Africans having little to no say in political decisions (“South African”). South Africa’s background of racial inequality played a large role in the creation of apartheid.Mandela studied to become a lawyer at the University of South Africa, and he was the only Black African in his class but was later expelled for his involvement in student protests.

In 1943, Mandela and other members of the African National Congress (ANC) created the African Youth League (AYL) to fight social injustice. Mandela and his friend set up the first Black African legal practice within South Africa, which provided affordable legal counsel to many blacks who were facing the discrimination of the apartheid system but could not fight back. In spring of 1960, the Nationalist Party banned the ANC due to escalating violence in sit-ins and boycotts (“Mandela, Nelson”). Mandela’s background in law, the AYL, and the ANC played a big role in him a name closely attached to the anti-apartheid movement.Mandela’s imprisonment made the way to him being the face of the fight against apartheid and his rise in politics. Mandela had been arrested before when he was twenty four for his involvement in the Defiance Campaign of 1952 (“Mandela, Nelson”). After his short imprisonment, Mandela spent years meeting with leaders of countries in Africa learning about their struggles (Magoon 56). Because of his travels outside of South Africa, when Mandela returned the police were looking for him.

Mandela fled Rivonia, and posed as a chauffeur for a white MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe) member (Magoon 57). On August 5 of 1962, Mandela was surrounded and arrested by police while he was on one of his drives. Mandela was refused the opportunity to speak to a lawyer and was forced to plea his own case (Magoon 58).He was charged with encouraging African  workers to go on strike and leaving the country without proper papers, to which he was sentenced 5 years in prison (Magoon 60, 61). While Mandela was in jail, his friends began entering the jail as prisoners after police captured Mandela’s hideout in Rivonia (Magoon 61).

In 1963, Mandela and his friends were all facing charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government and were brought to court for trials; these trials are known as the Rivonia trials. The trials lasted a year and eight of the accused were found guilty, one of them being Mandela, with death sentences being highly possible. The convicted decided not to appeal to a higher court and in 1964 Mandela was sentenced to life in prison along with six of the other prisoners. Mandela was sent to a high security prison on Robben Island. Mandela’s name became closely associated with anti-apartheid campaigns and, from prison, Mandela called for the people to continue to oppose apartheid in order to create a democratic and free society.

While Mandela was in jail, the Free Mandela Movement began to ensure his release from prison and after 18 years in prison, Mandela was moved to another prison due to his worsening health. Mandela was released after 28 years in prison when South African president F. W. de Klerk called for the release of political prisoners (“Mandela, Nelson”). Mandela’s imprisonment brought more attention to the issue of apartheid, leading to his rise in political power and eventually his rise to presidency.Due to the racial tension in South Africa, the Nationalist Party proposed apartheid to separate the races and later banned The ANC (“Mandela, Nelson”). F.

W. de Klerk believed that the way to save the Nationalist Party was to attract reformers, many of them English-speaking, who had until then supported other groups. De Klerk first met with ANC representatives and Mandela on May 7, 1990; both leaders reported the meeting to have been friendly, and each stated his attention to the integrity of the other.

De Klerk’s role as the catalyst in changing South Africa’s history seemed secure and he wanted to change the role apartheid way playing in South African society (“Fredrik Willem de Klerk”). Apartheid was banned in 1991 with the last white-only vote being held in 1992, and Mandela being released a year before the ban (“Mandela, Nelson”). In April 1994, the first all-race election was held between de Klerk and Mandela.

Black Africans were the majority of the population  and Mandela won the election (“Fredrik Willem de Klerk”). Mandela’s rise to presidency greatly impacted equality in South Africa and helped spread the word about the need for human rights.Nelson Mandela’s presidency changed South African history and made South Africa less racially tense, and more racially equal. Mandela was president from 1994 to 1999, and in 1996 the government adopted a new constitution that guaranteed equal rights for all races. Fredrik Willem de Klerk became Mandela’s second Vice President (“Fredrik Willem de Klerk”). Mandela was very open to meeting with opposers of him in the past. In 1995, Mandela invited his prosecutor from his trial to lunch as an example of the spirit of tolerance that was required to heal the divided nation (“Mandela, Nelson”).

The ANC thought Mandela should hire an entirely new presidential staff, to which he denied because he respected the people who worked for him. People that were a part of his presidential staff were surprised that he could remember their names and said that Mandela was very determined, never looked tired, drank, and always exercised (Crompton 85). During his presidency Mandela appointed a cabinet that included people from the Freedom Party and the Nationalist Party and spoke out about how changes wouldn’t occur overnight due to the impressions apartheid made on society. Mandela said: “You won’t be driving a Mercedes… or swimming in your own backyard pool anytime soon” (“Nelson Mandela”). Mandela desperately wanted a change in the racist society that was South Africa, but he understood that apartheid was deep rooted in South African history, so changes would not occur for many years.Although Mandela’s presidency had a positive impact on human rights, there were some major problems caused by his presidency.

During Mandela’s time in office, South African crime rate had soared, particularly in Johannesburg, where a wave of violent assaults and carjackings affected businesses and scared tourists away. South Africa’s murder rate was said to be ten times that of the United States, with was a massive increase in money laundering and drug shipments. The value of the rand (the South African Currency) plunged and so did support for the ANC, which dropped from 60 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in July of 1996 (“Nelson Mandela”). Mandela’s presidency began the funding of many human rights acts, which plunged the economy and increased violence in South Africa.Mandela’s political success was weakened by the AIDS/HIV epidemic that devastated South Africa in the end of the twentieth century. Mandela’s administration was severely criticized for their ineffectiveness in dealing with the disease; however, Mandela brought attention to the epidemic in order to educate and promote research. Mandela’s prison number (46664) was used in an AIDS fundraising concert in George, South Africa for South African women with HIV. Unfortunately, Mandela’s eldest son died of the disease in 2005 (“Mandela, Nelson”).

Mandela announced his son’s death in a press conference and urged South Africans to be more open about the disease (“Nelson Mandela”). The AIDS/HIV epidemic greatly impacted Mandela’s presidency and was one of the reasons Mandela did not run for office again.Mandela had a considerably successful presidency and retired from office in June of 1999 to make way for his Vice President, Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki won the election and was inaugurated on June 16, 1999. In his free time, Mandela proved himself to be an influential statesman by acting as middleman in peace talks such as negotiations in 2000 between Libya and the Western powers over the 1988 Scotland bombing. On December 2, 2000, Mandela received a Lifetime Achievement award from the congress of South Africa Trade Unions. Mandela was honored for his contribution to the struggle of workers during his presidency (“Nelson Mandela”). Even when Mandela was no longer president, he still played a big role in keeping politics peaceful.

Although Nelson Mandela was very important in the anti-apartheid movement, Fredrik Willem de Klerk, the president before Mandela, played a large role as well. In September of 1989, when the Nationalist party won parliamentary elections, de Klerk became state president. De Klerk removed restrictions on political groups, unbanned the ANC, and removed discriminatory laws (“Fredrik Willem de Klerk”). He focused on making South Africa and integrated democracy, whereas Mandela focused on racial equality and the concerns of the people rather than just integrating South Africa. Mandela and the statesman were fixated on issues regarding housing, health, education, the development of public utilities, and economic stability. Mandela drafted a program of reconstruction aimed at meeting concerns of the Black African population and, along with his cabinet, he introduced legislation requiring workplace safety, overtime pay, and minimum wages (“Nelson Mandela”).

Mandela promoted racial equality by publicly embracing the proponents of apartheid (“Mandela, Nelson”). It is important that Mandela had a positive impact on human rights in South Africa because without Mandela certain policies and initiatives would not have been created to challenge discrimination within South Africa.

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