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Nelson Mandela’s Human Rights Legacy

Posted on 18 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 18th September 2017

Who is Nelson Mandela?

Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary and the first President of South Africa.

Mandela was born on 18 July 1918. He was given the forename ‘Rolihlahla’, meaning troublemaker, and in later years became known by his clan name, ‘Madiba’. At school, Mandela was given the English forename ‘Nelson’ by his teacher. When he was 12 years old, his father died and Mandela was entrusted to the guardianship of the regent of the Thembu people. Mandela learned about his ancestors’ resistance of imperialism and apartheid.

What was apartheid?

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa. It was enforced through legislation. Under apartheid, the rights and freedoms of the majority black inhabitants and other ethnic groups in South Africa were restricted, and white minority rule was perpetuated.

From 1960 to 1983, 3.5 million non-white South Africans were removed from their homes and forced into segregated neighbourhoods. Non-white political representation was abolished in 1970 and black people were deprived of their citizenship. The government segregated education, medical care and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those reserved for white people.

How did Mandela fight apartheid?

At university in the 1940s, Mandela became increasingly involved in politics. He joined the African National Congress (‘ANC’), a political party opposed to the prevailing South African government during apartheid. Mandela helped to form the ANC Youth League and served on its executive committee.

After the South African general election 1948, in which only white people were permitted to vote, the National Party came to power. Mandela and others in the ANC began advocating direct action against apartheid, such as boycotts and strikes. At a rally on 22 June 1952, initiating protests for the ANC’s Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws, Mandela addressed a crowd of 10,000 people. He was subsequently arrested, but the campaign established Mandela as a prominent political figure in South Africa.

At this point, the South African government and many in the international community (including US President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) considered Mandela’s ANC a terrorist organisation. In July 1963, Mandela and others were charged with sabotage and conspiracy to violently overthrow the government.

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